Multnomah County Commissioners voted Thursday to stop sending juveniles to adult jails. Instances of suicide and sexual abuse around the nation are prompting many jurisdictions to make similar changes.
With the wave of ‘get-tough-on-crime’ legislation in the 1990s, teenagers as young as 15, charged with ‘adult crimes’ like robbery, murder and assault, were tried in adult court.
Some ended up serving time in adult jails.
Shannon White, of the incarceration think-tank ‘Safety and Justice,’ says research by the Center for Disease Control now shows that those kids are more likely to re-offend and are at greater risk for suicide and assault.
Shannon White: “Well it’s a wonderful step for Multnomah County. While Multnomah County actually has embraced a policy that keeps youth out of the adult jails. There have been some loopholes and youth have, and are currently in adult jail here in Portland.”
There have been no recent reports of incidents between adult and juveniles in Multnomah County jails. But jurisdictions as varied as Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut and Los Angeles County have all changed their policies.
EXTRA – Lake Oswego teen kills self shortly after leaving jail, 11 6 2007, KATU.com
EXTRA – Oregon teen kills self after leaving jail, 11 6 2007, AP.com
OUR COMMENT – We remember the death of Joshua Overstreet, who committed suicide moments after being released from the Multnomah County Detention Center on November 6 2007. He was 18 years old and was acutely mentally ill.