Problematic Behavior or Activity
The US has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. As such, it is estimated that the US spends $80 billion dollars annually on public prisons. In the Oregon Department of Corrections, the cost of housing one Adult in Custody (AIC) is roughly $140.87 per day, or rather, $51,417.55 per year. Given the current prison population, the approximate cost of incarceration in Oregon is around $620 million annually. Furthermore, reports estimate Oregon prisons are operating at 95% capacity. Prior to House Bill 3194 efforts, Multnomah County was sentencing 55% of its would-be MCJRP-eligible population to the Department of Corrections. The County had not yet identified a way to use offender risk and need information pre-trial.
Not using a pre-adjudication risk/needs assessment to identify who could be supervised in the community helped Multnomah County contribute to the population of Oregon’s strained prison system. Using funds that would have gone to incarceration costs are instead used for local public safety efforts and alternative sentencing. Not only does the program reduce the prison population but reduces recidivism and increases public safety.
Justice Reinvestment is a program that aims to more effectively spend resources in Oregon’s criminal justice system. The goal of the program is to reduce recidivism, promote public safety, and hold offenders accountable in addition to reducing the number of people sentenced to prison. As such, money that would go toward prison costs are reinvested in local communities for the purposes of achieving its goals.
As the state’s most populous county, Multnomah is positioned to have the greatest impact on prison utilization, recidivism, public safety, and holding offenders accountable. The infusion of justice reinvestment resources led to the development of effective community supervision for high risk/need offenders, rather than sending them to DOC.
Multnomah County’s MCJRP program is using funds to increase its capacity to do the following:
- Target eligible high or very high risk/need offenders.
- Perform risk/need assessments to determine how individuals can be managed safely in the community.
- Produce a comprehensive risk/needs report, used by the defense, prosecution, and court, designed to inform the sentencing process.
- Provide 120 days of intensive supervision to many of those assigned to MCJRP.
- Fund a myriad of treatment services designed around the specific needs of the individual.
- This program will use these funds to establish a treatment readiness dorm within Multnomah County’s Inverness Jail.
Based on Research
Every biennium, grant funds are allocated based on a DOC formula that considers a variety of factors. Additional funds are awarded through a supplemental grant for counties that have a dedicated downward departure prison diversion program. Aside from the initial grant when the program began, Multnomah County has been awarded a minimum of $7 million every biennium. The following is the grant award for each allocation year:
- 2013-2015 Grant: 3,165,399
- 2015-2017 Grant: 7,869,629
- 2017-2019 Formula Grant: 7,584,282
- 2017-2019 Supplemental Grant: 1,695,642
- 2019-2021 Formula Grant: 7,275,636
- 2019-2021 Supplemental Grant: 2,052,597
- 2021-2023 Formula Grant: 7,677,955
- 2021-2023 Supplemental Grant: 3,039,539
- 4 FTE Parole/Probation Officers
- 1.3 FTE Escort deputies
- 1.0 FTE Enforcement Deputy
- 1.0 FTE Program Coordinator
- 1.0 FTE Project Manager
- 1.0 FTE Supervisor
- 1.0 FTE Program Administrator
- .50 FTE Legal Assistant
- Substance Use Disorder treatment
- Housing and Mentorship
- Mental Health Evaluation
- Employment Services
- Parent Education
- Circuit Court
- Public Defender
- Law Enforcement Services
- Treatment-Readiness In-custody
In addition to these personnel and services, the program ensures that 10% of the grant funds are dedicated to victim services.
Prior to implementation in 2013, 55% of would-be MCJRP-eligible cases received prison sentences. Under MCJRP, 25% of eligible cases are sentenced to prison. As a result, the MCJRP program has reduced state spending on prison operation costs by $34.5 million dollars (between 2015 and 2019).
Evaluations of the program find that there was a 6% reduction in re-offense rates over a 2-year period of those participating in MCJRP compared to individuals who were incarcerated. There has also been a 40% reduction of prison sentences since the start of the program in 2013. As noted in the most recent evaluation report, individuals participating in MCJRP are less likely to be sentenced to prison, use fewer jail beds for new crimes, have lower revocation rates, and are more likely to pay restitution compared to MCJRP-eligible individuals who were sentenced to prison.
Critical Success Factors
- Collaboration with system partners and programming
- Ongoing, consistent meetings with key players
- Decision-making agreements that are data driven
- Individualized approaches for each case
- Engaging participants in evidenced based practices
- Continued financial support
This program helps avoid the need and cost of building a new prison to accommodate a growing prison population. Supervising eligible participants in the community rather than in a correctional facility reduces the costs and strains on the Oregon Department of Corrections. Furthermore, these individuals are no more likely to recidivate than similarly situated individuals sentenced to prison, which means public safety is not compromised.