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Oregon county jail populations decreased by nearly 50% amid COVID-19 pandemic

To allow for more social distancing, Oregon county jails have released hundreds of inmates.
Credit: KGW
Multnomah County Jail

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon county jails have released more than 2,300 inmates in the past few weeks to allow for more social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study released by Disability Rights Oregon.

Of the 5,200 inmates in county jails pre-coronavirus, 2,312 have been released, leaving a current population of 2,888.

According to Chris Liedle, a spokesperson for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, the inmate population at both Inverness Jail and Multnomah County Detention Center has been decreased by about 30 percent since March 15. As of May 4 there are 744 inmates in county custody. 

Inmates who had fewer than two weeks remaining on their sentences were released early. Each inmate's case was reviewed by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Judicial Department, and the Department of Community Justice, considering the crime committed or alleged to have committed, criminal history, whether the individual is likely to re-offend.

Liedle says the population decrease in Multnomah County isn't only because of early release.

"Our law enforcement deputies and officers at agency partners, Gresham PD and PPB, have been given discretion to issue criminal citations in lieu of custody, which has greatly reduced the number of people being taken to jail and overall stress on the corrections division during this time," Liedle said in an email.

Here's how the cuts unfolded in Portland metro area county jails:

Clackamas County

  • Pre-COVID population: 466
  • Current population: 152

Marion County

  • Pre-COVID population: 415
  • Current population: 281

Linn County

  • Pre-COVID population: 207
  • Current population: 115

Washington County

  • Pre-COVID population: 572
  • Current population: 272

Yamhill County

  • Pre-COVID population: 143
  • Current population: 57

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