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Situation inside Multnomah County jail system 'catastrophic,' chronically understaffed, report finds

A grand jury spent several weeks examining the condition and management of MCSO detention facilities.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A staffing shortage, described as catastrophic at times, and a lack of mental health resources were among the takeaways from a grand jury report on the correctional facilities in Multnomah County.

The report indicates the staffing shortage has taken a toll on staff morale and resulted in early retirements and staff burnout.

The grand jury suggested hazard pay, assignment-based bonuses, and hiring back retirees as ways to improve staffing.

"This report is constructive and sensible in its recommendations," Sheriff Mike Reese said in a statement. "We have already taken steps to address impacts to services and resources for adults in custody and improve employee satisfaction."

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The grand jury found the number of adults in custody, or AICs, suffering from mental health conditions and substance abuse is so high, the jail system is beginning to serve as a de facto mental health hospital despite not being equipped to do so.

The grand jury suggests providing deputies with additional training and hiring nonsecurity staff that specializes in mental health.

"I am committed to collaborating with county partners and impacted communities to continue integrating the recommendations of the CGJ," Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said in a statement.

You can read the full grand jury report here.

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