Multnomah County voters approved a proposal to require county commissioners to visit jails more often to examine health and safety issues at the facilities.
Partial returns tallied as of 9 p.m. Tuesday showed 73% of voters supported Measure 26-233, which will amend the county charter to require the more frequent visits to county jails and also will require that volunteers from the public accompany commissioners on their visits and submit public reports on what they see.
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The county’s charter review committee crafted the measure to create more transparency around the operations of Inverness Jail in Northeast Portland and the Multnomah County Detention Center downtown and to allow a more diverse group of people to see and report publicly on the jails, said member Nina Khanjan.
Future inspection topics could include the jails’ procedures for preventing suicides among the people detained, for example.
State law already requires that county commissioners inspect their local jails once per “term.” In practice, that means once a year in Multnomah County. Going forward, each commissioner will have to visit the jails at least twice per year.
A separate state law requires that counties convene grand juries at least once a year to inspect their local jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers. Measure 26-233 did not change that process.
— Beth Slovic; email@example.com; @bethslovic; 503-221-8551
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