Multnomah County Pretrial System Assessment
The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 745,200 inmates were confined in local jails at midyear 2017. 1 More than six out of every ten jail inmates are awaiting trial, and nine out of ten defendants who remain in jail pretrial are there because they have not posted bail.2 Multnomah County recognizes that their jail capacity issues are driven by pretrial detention and this is one of the many reasons the county chose to join the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) in 2015. Since joining the SJC, county stakeholders have been meeting to discuss criminal justice policy and practice changes, including those in the pretrial system.
The stakeholders in Multnomah County requested that Justice System Partners (JSP) conduct an assessment of the county’s pretrial system to provide recommendations on how to gain efficiencies in their system and to inform their SJC strategies, including moving to a more risk- than charge- based release decision process, reducing duplication caused by a bifurcated pretrial supervision system, and increasing pretrial release options.
The overall intention of this report is to provide local pretrial policymakers and staff with information on opportunities to more closely align current pretrial policies and practices with those that are legal and evidence-based, cost-effective, and that will best enable local policymakers to instill a culture of continuous system improvement. The report summarizes the findings and recommendations from the pretrial assessment and reflects the status of policies and practices as of December 2019. All findings are interpreted, and all recommendations are made within the context of legal and evidence-based pretrial practices and Justice System Partner’s expertise.