Multnomah County board could be required to inspect jails more
Voters will be able to decide whether to compel Multnomah County commissioners to increase how often they inspect county jails.
A 15-person committee tasked with reviewing the county's charter — functionally a local constitution — concluded its work in July, recommending seven charter amendments, which must be approved by voters to be implemented.
One amendment would require each commissioner to conduct at least one additional inspection of the Multnomah County Detention Center and Inverness Jail every year.
State law already requires the board of commissioners to conduct an inspection of the county jails at least once a regular term.
Commissioners would be required to be accompanied by at least one member of the public, excluding auditor's office or jail employees, during the additional inspection, according to the proposed amendment. The member of the public will be selected through an application process and receive a stipend.
Subject to safety measures, inspection participants would have "golden key access" to the facility, meaning the sheriff must provide access to records, any part of the jails at any time without prior notice, and confidential interviews with consenting incarcerated people or others, the amendment states.
Participants will issue a report publicly with findings and recommendations following their inspections.
The goals of the amendment were to increase oversight, raise awareness of jail conditions and ensure that county policymakers are familiar with the experiences of people in county custody, committee members said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.