New risk assessments aim to reduce prison population, increase treatment and other services

The Oregonian, May 6, 2014

County courthousePeople charged with certain felonies and facing prison time in Multnomah County will soon undergo a new risk assessment before they’re sentenced to see if they would do better on intense probation rather than serving time behind bars.

The new program, scheduled to start July 1, is the county’s answer to House Bill 3194, a legislative initiative aimed at keeping people out of prison or sending them to prison for less time to free up money for treatment and other community-based services. If successful, the county could reap a multimillion grant in the 2015-17 biennium under the state’s Justice Reinvestment Program. Some have estimated the windfall could be up to $12 million.

The risk assessments would be done on people who are in jail after their arraignments and as they await trial. The evaluations, recognized nationally as the Level of Service Case Management Inventory, would consider an accused’s criminal history, education, employment, family, any alcohol or drug problems or mental health needs…

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