Multnomah County substantially reduced its use of detention since becoming a JDAI site in 1994. Over this period of time Multnomah County has seen a large decrease in the number of youth of color in custody and in lengths of stay as well. Rather than spending resources on detention, this reduction has allowed for the county to invest millions of dollars in alternatives, prevention and intervention services, treatment programs, etc. While youth in detention and on probation have declined--and the youth population has increased--youth delinquency (as measured by referrals to juvenile court) continues to decrease. The main contributors helping to curb the use of detention and maintain public safety include a development and implementation of a detention risk assessment instrument to support detention screening and decision-making; expedited procedures across the entire system for case processing that is developmentally appropriate and reduces lengths of stay in detention; and alternatives to detention--Youth Reception Center (a triage for low-risk offenses and youth in crisis), shelter care (short-term/temporary pre-adjudication placement) and community and electronic monitoring (community-based supervision. Keys to our progress and success: culturally-responsive services/programs, trauma-informed practice, community-based service providers, parent and family partnership, strength- and need-based responses to risks and violations, evidence-based and emerging practices, restorative justice, quality legal representation, multi-disciplinary and multi-system collaboration; and a commitment to continuous system improvement and reform.
Visit Multnomah County's official Juvenile Detention Reform Initiative webpage for additional information on their work, including valuable videos, historical documents and news updates.
Multnomah County Juvenile Services Division of the Deparment of Community Justice
1401 NE 68th Avenue
Portland, OR 97213