Report: Conditions in Multnomah County jail

Update, March 20, 2017:

Commissioner Sharon Meieran has responded to our recommendations in her newsletter.

On Friday, The Portland Tribune published an op-ed by staff attorney Sarah Radcliffe about our investigation.

 

Update, March 8, 2017:

Our report makes recommendations for how we can end the abuse and neglect of people with mental illness in the Multnomah County jail.

We wrote to each of the County Commissioners requesting their response to our recommendations. You can read our letter here.

 


Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) has released a new report, “A Merry Go Round That Never Stops: Mental Illness in the Multnomah County Detention Center.” Staff attorney Sarah Radcliffe authored the report following an extensive investigation. The report finds that, in many ways, prisoners at the local jail are punished for having a mental illness. Treatment and conditions are traumatizing, dangerous, and even life threatening. The report offers recommendations to help jails and community providers successfully meet the needs of Oregonians with severe mental illness.

  • Offer treatment for mental illness, rather than criminalize it
  • End solitary confinement for people with serious mental illness
  • Strengthen supports for people with mental health issues in custody
  • Create a new protocol for responding to mental health related behavior in jail
  • Improve oversight and accountability to remedy systemic race and disability disparities, and prevent staff misconduct
Here are three actions you can take:

  • Contact your elected officials. Contact your county commissioner and ask her to help create more stable communities by:
    • Treating individuals with mental illness in the community
    • Ending solitary confinement for people with serious mental illness
    • Strengthening supports for people with mental health issues in custody
    • Creating a new protocol for responding to mental health related behavior in jail
    • Improving oversight and accountability to remedy systemic race and disability disparities, and taking steps to prevent staff misconduct
  • Contact your state legislator to support policy changes that would support community integration rather than incarceration for people with mental illness. The Oregon state legislature is considering bills this session that would:
    • Require diversion of people in serious mental health crisis from jail to the nearest hospital or facility approved by OHA
    • Create a deadline for completing evaluation of people with mental illness who are incarcerated (HB 2631)
    • Limit the use of Oregon State Hospital for restorative treatment of people with mental illness in criminal cases, by expanding options for community-based treatment (SB 132)
Photo: Sarah Radcliffe stands on a city street and looks at the camera while wearing a blue shirt.

Staff attorney Sarah Radcliffe

A Merry Go Round That Never Stops: Mental Illness in the Multnomah County Detention Center (PDF)
A Merry Go Round That Never Stops: Executive Summary (PDF)
A Merry Go Round That Never Stops: Recommendations (PDF)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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