We would like to thank the members of this year’s Corrections Grand Jury for their service and dedication to examining the local jail facilities. They and their predecessors continue to identify pressing needs, including more investments in community-based treatment resources that could ease the burden on corrections staff.
That’s why Multnomah County will continue to work with our partners at the State to prioritize behavioral health funding. Over the past year, the State has responded with additional resources that have allowed us to expand our Stabilization and Treatment Preparedness (STP) program, fund staff and supports for Mental Health Court, increase revenue so front line addiction workers are appropriately compensated, and develop a new behavioral health justice reinvestment initiative that is currently underway through the State’s IMPACTS program. These programs build on the growing investments the County has made in recent years, the most important of which is the Behavioral Health Resource Center currently under development.
The County will also continue to partner with the Sheriff’s Office to address their ongoing staffing vacancies. The County continues to fully fund corrections positions and recognizes the difficulty of hiring people to serve in a jail setting, especially in an economy with low unemployment. We remain committed to developing new and innovative solutions, including the possibility of a more therapeutic type of suicide watch, that will allow corrections deputies to focus on their core duties while mental health professionals take a more active role. And we are excited about the next round of funding from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which is focused primarily on resources for the pre-trial system.
All these initiatives are part of an ongoing County wide effort to keep our public safe by connecting people with the community based resources they need to prevent the jail from functioning as a crisis center of last resort.