HR County joins response on facility

Following a deeply critical report about juvenile inmate conditions at the regional jail, Hood River County will join a multi-county response drafted by attorneys.


Ron Rivers

Hood River County Chair Ron Rivers expects the county’s local panel won’t issue its own separate statement, but will take part in the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility board’s message.

The message will respond to — and refute some — claims raised by Disability Rights Oregon, he said.

The NORCOR board met Friday and decided to issue the response. It was set to be drafted within three days, and published this week.

Rivers criticized Wasco County’s letter that led to the emergency meeting. That county voiced an intention to stop sending juvenile inmates to NORCOR, but changed course Friday (see related coverage on A10-11).

“This is multi-county. This is a four-member group. It has been since 1998. For one partner to go off on their own was wrong,” Rivers said Monday.

Rivers said he and Sheriff Matt English “came down hard” on Wasco representatives at Friday’s meeting, but he feels good about the results. After coming out of executive session, the NORCOR board directed attorneys to draft a response.

Rivers said many of DRO’s allegations were false. He considered the claim that conditions are inhumane at the juvenile facility “ridiculous.” He said that although the report did note certain outdated practices, changes are being made in response to fix them.

The report said a “lack of oversight and accountability has allowed NORCOR to neglect the basic mental health and social development needs of kids in custody.”

Long-running discussions about the county’s funding for the juvenile program will press on.

Rivers said the county will be taking a hard look at its involvement due to the cost. He said during the budget process in early 2018 commissioners may look at partnering with other agencies, such as Deschutes County, which runs a larger program.

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