People charged with certain felonies and facing prison time in Portland, Or.’s Multnomah County will undergo a new risk assessment before they’re sentenced to see if they would do better on intense probation rather than serving time behind bars, The Oregonian reports. The new program, scheduled to start July 1, is the county’s answer to a legislative initiative aimed at keeping people out of prison or sending them to prison for less time to free up money for treatment and other community-based services. If successful, the county could reap a multimillion grant in 2015-17 under the state’s justice reinvestment program. The windfall could be up to $12 million.
The risk assessments would be done on people who are in jail after their arraignments and as they await trial. The evaluations, recognized nationally as the Level of Service Case Management Inventory, would consider an accused’s criminal history, education, employment, family, any alcohol or drug problems or mental health needs. The assessment would be required before a case is referred for a judicial settlement conference. Defense attorneys would have to “opt out” of the risk assessments if they don’t want their client to participate. Officials estimate that 65 to 70 people a month fall in this “target population.” Excluded are anyone accused of felony charges resulting from a homicide, or any felony sex crimes, domestic violence felonies or other felony cases in which a victim is under 14 years old.