In the face of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice has temporarily suspended monthly supervision fees for adults on parole and probation.
The announcement comes as public safety partners across Multnomah County are working to improve social distancing and prioritize the health and safety of both public safety professionals and justice-involved individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have already taken a number of steps to meet social distancing goals for people who are on parole and probation,” said Erika Preuitt, director of the Department of Community Justice. “This decision helps address some of the economic impacts [of the COVID-19 crisis] felt by people who are on supervision and are already working to reintegrate back in society. They face a number of barriers in seeking housing and jobs. It is critical we provide these individuals with more resources during this time.”
The changes coincide with system-wide steps being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Public safety leaders added an additional dorm at Multnomah County Inverness Jail to allow for better implementation of social distancing guidelines; enhanced screening measures have been enacted when individuals arrive at jail; court trials and hearings have been postponed and in-person court services significantly limited, officials said.
The fee suspension is one more step towards reducing strain on the public safety system during an extraordinary event.
Notifications were sent to justice-involved individuals via phone messages, signs posted on County buildings, and check-ins with parole and probation officers. The suspension is part of long-term work to phase out supervision fees altogether, which studies show can drive justice-involved individuals further into poverty.
“We are doing everything we can right now to reduce the transmission of disease, protect staff and justice-involved individuals and work to support a resilient, equitable and efficient public safety system,” said Preuitt.