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Oregon sheriffs decry 'devastating' community corrections shortfall

Call on lawmakers to take action, head off impacts

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon State Sheriffs' Association called on the Oregon Legislature Wednesday to "take immediate action to address a devastating shortfall for community corrections in the Department of Corrections budget."

"As partners in public safety, we share a responsibility to keep our communities safe, reduce crime and address the underlying factors that lead to criminal activity," the announcement said. "We ask the Oregon Legislature to fix the devastating impact on public safety and address this funding shortfall."

Here's the rest of their news release, in full:

THE PROBLEM:

As passed, the currently approved DOC budget (SB 5504) funds county community corrections operations statewide at a "baseline" level of $268.5 million.

This amount drastically fails to take into account the findings of the recently completed Oregon Department of Corrections "Actual Cost Study" (ACS), which recommended an increase in baseline funding of nearly $50 million to counties to meet the actual cost of providing supervision services.

This comprehensive study determined the actual time and cost to supervise the 30,000 people under some type of formal supervision in Oregon counties.

The ACS looks at factors including the current risk of the offender population, time spent by county community corrections officials with those on supervision and the costs associated with sanctions and services provided to the offender population.

This information is then used to determine the daily rate per individual on supervision which is paid by the state to the county for those services.

The ACS findings resulted in an increase of the daily rate from $11.69 to $14.24 per client -- which in turn increased the 2019-21 Baseline Funding to $318 million as the amount necessary to meet the actual costs to counties for community corrections services.

However, the Oregon Legislature did not approve funding to meet the increased daily rate ,resulting in counties having to shoulder unfunded services.

THE IMPACT:

The resulting reduction in baseline funding for statewide community corrections will have immediate, measurable, devastating impacts on county services that treat addiction and reduce recidivism. It will impact public safety and the quality of life in our local communities statewide.

The impacts across Oregon counties are significant:

Multnomah County impact: On Aug. 27, Multnomah County posted a press release on the impacts: https://multco.us/multnomah-county/news/board-updated-substantial-public-safety-cuts-due-reductions-legislature According to the release: The cuts affect the County's Department of Community Justice, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council. They translate to layoffs and losses in public safety staff, services and available jail beds.

All of the cuts would leave people on parole or probation, or post-prison release, with fewer services and interventions, public safety officials told commissioners. And the cuts will increase the number of people Multnomah County sends to the state's prison system.

Countywide reductions include: • Nineteen staff in the Department of Community Justice's Adult Services Division, including corrections counselors, probation and parole officers, community justice managers as well as staff in the department's director's office. This includes the elimination of the County's Change Center Program, a cognitive behavioral therapy program for people on supervision. • A jail dorm or 73 jail beds • 7.2 Multnomah County Sheriff's Office corrections deputy positions • Reductions in Short Term Transitional Leave for people leaving prison • Reductions to the County's Justice Reinvestment Program, which was created as part of a sweeping statewide initiative to reduce state prison costs.

And because of the cuts, Sheriff Mike Reese said, the County's jail system would surge past capacity, forcing daily releases of people who otherwise would stay in jail. Additional details, including reactions from Multnomah County Commissioners, can be found here: https://multco.us/multnomah-county/news/board-updated-substantial-public-safety-cuts-due-reductions-legislature

Marion County impact: • Overview of losses: Elimination of five full-time employees (FTEs), funding for Transitional Housing, and treatment programming within the county's Transition Center. Additional cuts will include a reduction in funding to Marion County's one-stop support center (the De Muniz Resource Center) and elimination of 2.5 full-time sworn and management staff. There will also be significant impacts to treatment and monitoring of sex offenders. • Estimated financial impact: $1.2 million • Estimated staff cuts: 7.5 full-time employees

Clackamas County impact: • Overview of losses: Approximately $1.4 million in cuts are expected, which would lead to the likely closure of the award-winning Transition Center, an all-in-one location providing crucial services to justice-involved individuals leaving jail or prison. (Learn more at https://www.clackamas.us/sheriff/transitioncenter.html ) At risk are positions for 12 Community Corrections staffers, including Parole and Probation Officers and client counselors. Current contracts for mentor, GED, housing, and client-basic-needs services could also be reduced or cut. • Estimated financial impact: $1.4 million • Estimated staff cuts: 12 Community Corrections employees.

Washington County impact: • Overview of losses: Closure of a 36-bed substance-abuse program (5 positions), as well as the elimination of six full-time Parole & Probation staff, a Community Corrections Assistant Manager, and contract recovery and peer mentors. • Estimated financial impact: $1.2 million • Estimated staff cuts: 12 Community Corrections employees. However, Washington County bridged the gap by temporarily supplementing part of the state's funding shortfall, saving six Probation & Parole staff positions; net loss is 6 positions. Hood River County impact: • Overview of losses: Inability to fully implement necessary evidence-based programs (cognitive, mental health, drug and alcohol). No funding to hire/contract for the aforementioned services. Insecure funding for custody alternative sanction (work crew). • Estimated financial impact: $220,000

"These are not marginal reductions," said OSSA President and Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts. "These are cuts that impact quality of life and public safety. Treatment and transition programs are critical to stop recidivism.

"By offering treatment, we keep people from returning to jail and prison -- which frees up space to house the most dangerous offenders. The loss of treatment beds will put a strain on our local correctional systems.

"This reduction is compounded for our Eastern and Southern Oregon counties, which are already fiscally and resource distressed. It's bad for public safety and bad for the public we serve. It will lead to increased crime and diminished quality of life."


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