The mission of the Sustainable Jails Project is to provide excellent stewardship of public funds by saving money, conserving natural resources, and reducing recidivism rates. This is achieved through incorporating informed, sustainable decision-making and practices into Multnomah County jail facilities, operations, and programming.
The project, which began as a small-scale effort in 2010, reflects the county’s department-wide commitment to sustainability. Officers and inmates alike have seen numerous changes with new sustainable initiatives that have included switching from Styrofoam to reusable cups, using recycled twine to wrap laundry and capturing, and treating and recycling water used to wash clothes and bedding.
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Some of the future objectives highlighted include:
- Digitizing the law library, saving approximately $70,000 per year.
- Upgrading the laundry facility at Inverness Jail with water recycling and energy saving systems, saving $57,000 per year.
- Reducing total energy use of the jails 20% by 2020.
- Reducing water use in county jails 10% by 2015.
- Working with food contractors to buy at least 10% of food locally.
“The Multnomah County Sustainable Jail Project really is the first of its kind, innovative model for the rest of the nation around sustainable, cost-effective jail operations,” West, then Director of the Office of Sustainability, said at the board presentation. “The convenient truth is using resources wisely saves money.”
In 2010, efforts from the Sheriff's Office, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, to work toward more sustainable jail operations marked the beginning stages of what has evolved into the Sustainable Jail Project.