Discovering Opportunities for Impact in Multnomah County
In 2019, Multnomah County came to us with the goal of re-envisioning their pretrial system to eliminate disparities, align system processes with legal and evidence-based practices, and improve outcomes. In order to execute the kind of complex system reforms necessary to bring about a re-imagined system, state and local governments need assistance identifying the challenges, gaps, and opportunities surrounding more fair and equitable possibilities. Our team conducted a thorough pretrial system assessment to help Multnomah stakeholders identify these possibilities.
We helped Multnomah to discover opportunities to make changes throughout their pretrial system by conducting data analysis, interviewing system stakeholders, observing delivery of services, and reviewing a large volume of documents and materials shared by various agencies in the county to learn about and understand the current system. Our team scanned documents including policies and procedures, presiding judge’s orders, and various reports and studies. We conducted quantitative analyses of data from multiple agencies, reviewed related state statutes, and assessed the county’s pretrial release programs and processes.
Following this thorough investigation and information gathering process, our team developed a variety of recommendations, particularly focused on the pretrial system. The depth of our analysis and our attention to nuance surrounding perspectives and resources led to realistic, comprehensive, and impactful recommendations, including:
- Revising existing judicial orders that limit the pretrial defendants who can be released prior to first appearance and the amount of security to be ordered.
- Revising pretrial services policies and procedures manuals to increase efficiency and consistency in practice.
- Replacing the existing pretrial assessment with a validated, non-interview-based assessment instrument and begin universal assessment of all people who are booked.
- Better matching of supervision level with assessed risk.
- Convening a data committee specific to pretrial issues with a focus on eliminating disparate impacts.
- Conducting subsequent analyses regarding release outcomes controlling for housing, employment, and other relevant factors.
Multnomah County has since enlisted our team to support the implementation of these recommendations. Together, we are bringing Multnomah closer to eliminating disparities, aligning practices with the most up to date research, and improving outcomes for community members.
P.O. Box 970, South Easton, MA 02375-0970
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