- Jeff Versoi
The metaphoric bleeding has ceased in Portland's jails.
In 2012, Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton was forced to release 913 inmates because of overcrowding—an alarming figure that spurred elected officials into conversations about tweaking policy ["Pressure Release," News, June 12, 2013]. But despite that work, 2013 was shaping up even worse.
Then the wound clotted.
The jail, though still frequently near capacity, has not logged a so-called "emergency population release" since November 2013—but officials are fretting all the same. With that good news comes a loss of millions.
For years, the jails have counted on being stocked—at a profit—with federal prisoners. The US Marshals Service pays a premium for the right to stow their charges in our two county facilities.
But that's recently changed. Partly because the county's been successful in bartering for high compensation, the marshals service is using Multnomah County as a holding pen less and less. That's raised red flags among finance types about current budget assumptions, and warnings of ongoing losses to the general fund.