Total Correctional Population: 82,000
Number on Parole or Probation: 61,400
Number in Local Jail or Prison: 20,700
Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 500
Incarceration Rate Rank: 33rd
Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 10.1%
“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers
June 21, 2019
“The assumption is often made that people with mental illness end up in the justice system because they refuse healthcare interventions. In these cases, the opposite was true; the healthcare system refused them.”
Between 2017 and 2018, 142 people were arrested for trespassing at five Portland hospitals and a psychiatric emergency department, and 109 of them were seeking or being discharged from care, according to a new report from Disability Rights Oregon. The authors urge hospitals to create better discharge plans for patients, and seek funding for diversion programs for people with mental illness. Officials from Legacy and OHSU defended their practices, but Providence Medical Group’s chief executive of behavioral health said they had “significantly reviewed and revised [their] processes and procedures” based on the report.
May 31, 2019
“We need a public safety system that holds youth accountable for crimes but just as importantly ensures they can grow and change for the better.”
Senate Bill 1008, which would end the practice of automatically referring youths accused of certain crimes to adult court, passed in the Oregon House by a vote of 40-18, narrowly meeting the 2/3 majority required to amend a voter-approved initiative. In addition to requiring a hearing for referrals, the bill allows for a “second look” hearing halfway through a sentence, and eliminates life without parole sentences for juveniles. Governor Kate Brown has indicated that she will sign the bill. We are sad to note that Senate Minority Leader Jackie Winters, who helped lead the fight for SB 1008, passed away this week. “Justice reform has been my passion for many years,” Winters said in one of her final public statements, “and I am so pleased that we got this bill across the finish line.”
April 19, 2019
“I am voting yes because I have not given up on the young people, children of Oregon, my Oregon, who have gotten themselves into trouble.”
The Oregon State Senate voted this week to end the automatic referral of juveniles facing certain serious charges to adult court. The referrals were required under Measure 11, passed in 1994, which established mandatory minimum sentences and high bail for offenses including murder, robbery, and assault. Senate Bill 1008 would also bar life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders and establish “second look” hearings for juveniles convicted of Measure 11 crimes who have served at least half of their sentences. The bill passed by a vote of 20-10, narrowly meeting the requirement of 2/3 majority to amend a voter-approved law.
April 12, 2019
“Right now, these guys are not gaining the tools or assistance that allows them to be successful. Reentry Court takes a holistic approach to those barriers.”
In Oregon, Lane County’s Reentry Court provides people returning from federal prison with support to achieve sobriety, gain employment, and develop coping and problem-solving skills. Those who complete the 12-month program without a violation receive a one-year reduction of their probation term. Reentry team members seek to address the main barriers to successful transition from prison: substance abuse, mental health issues, inadequate housing, and a lack of peer support and guided programming. The revocation rate for participants is 26% lower than the rest of the state’s supervised release programs.
March 29, 2019
“The time has come for us to engage in a deep and critical reflection on the fairness of our juvenile justice system.”
Oregon lawmakers heard testimony this week about a series of reforms to the state’s juvenile justice system, including removing the mandate that juveniles aged 15 or older be tried as adults for some serious crimes. The bills have garnered support from Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Department of Corrections Director Colette Peters, and Oregon Youth Authority Director Joe O’Leary. Recent polling by GBAO showed 88% of Oregonians want the youth justice system to focus on prevention and rehabilitation, rather than punishment and incarceration.
March 15, 2019
“It’s obviously an equity issue. They’re stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty.”
Legislators in Oregon are debating House Bill 2614, which would end the suspension of driver’s licenses for unpaid court fees and traffic tickets. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles issued more than 76,000 license suspensions in 2017 alone. Representative Jeff Barker, who is sponsoring the bill with House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, said the current system impacts those who can’t afford to pay fines, and “they get into a downward spiral that they can’t get out of.”
March 1, 2019
“It is very upsetting that defendants are in jail and are not able to access our resources as timely as the court requires and, more importantly, as is appropriate for their needs and their rights.”
According to analysis by the Oregonian, state courts, corrections and hospital officials routinely fail to get people with mental illness into treatment within a court-ordered seven day timeline. Researchers found more than 200 incidents of delay, some lasting more than a month. The reporting revealed that 63% of those experiencing extended delays had been charged with misdemeanors and faced little to no jail time if convicted.
January 11, 2019
“But what we’re seeing in these situations is that not only are the poor in the United States treated differently than people with means, but that the courts are actually aggravating and perpetuating poverty.”
Corinth, Mississippi is the subject of a New York Times investigation into the cycle of debt and incarceration, and the ways fines and fees are used to finance the justice system. Prior to a settlement last fall, defendants who were unable to pay fines and fees could reduce their debt by $25 for each day they spent in the Alcorn County Jail. The settlement grants additional time for people to pay fines and fees, and does not allow imprisonment for people who are unable to pay. The problem is not limited to Mississippi, or to criminal infractions—Oregon courts have issued significant fines to parents whose children are truant, and Louisiana’s pretrial diversion laws allow people with traffic offenses to pay quickly and avoid a record, while those who cannot pay may end up with additional court fees.
July 20, 2018
“The criminal justice system is not the right place—or it shouldn’t be the place of first resort to provide addiction or mental health services.”
Portland, Oregon is seeking a better understanding of arrest trends and causes after a report by the Oregonian showed that people experiencing homelessness accounted for 52% of arrests in 2017. 86% of those arrests were for non-violent crimes, and nearly a quarter were for procedural violations, including missing court dates or violating parole or probation. Amid this increased focus, Mayor Wheeler also noted that the city has increased funding for its Behavioral Health Unit, increased training on de-escalation, and added a homeless liaison position to the Portland Police Bureau.