Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center: Management responded rapidly by updating policies and practices, but use of face coverings still needs to be consistently enforced
The Multnomah County Department of Community Justice (DCJ) runs the Donald E. Long Detention Facility (Donald E. Long), which is a 64-bed youth detention center. There are 34 detention beds for Multnomah County youth and 30 beds contracted by Clackamas and Washington Counties. The detention beds are grouped into four pods; three for males and one for females. Each pod has 16 individual sleeping units and a common area. Housed in the same building, but not part of juvenile detention, is a voluntary, short-term residential program with 16 beds. There are 58 Juvenile Custody Service Specialists and 31 Juvenile Counselors who work at Donald E. Long.
Does Donald E. Long have a written plan for how to respond to the pandemic and future outbreaks?
Management created policies or referred to central county guidance on a variety of topics such as face coverings, daily staff health screening of COVID-19 signs and symptoms, visitation, and court hearings.
Where does their guidance come from?
Donald E. Long management uses guidance from Multnomah County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Is there a policy requiring face coverings? If so, were people wearing them at the time of our audit?
DCJ management said they defer to the county’s guidance for juvenile detention settings. The county policy states that, “Staff are required to wear face coverings/face shields in settings where they are interacting with the public, and if they cannot maintain 6 feet or more distance between other staff. Face coverings are not required while eating or drinking.”
In fall 2020, we sent a survey to all county employees to provide them with an opportunity to communicate their experiences during the pandemic. For the 34 employees who responded from Donald E. Long, 50% said that staff always wear a mask when in close proximity to others. In the same survey, 38% of staff said that youth in detention at Donald E. Long always wear their masks. We recommend that managers consistently enforce face covering policies.
Survey question: In my experience, county employees wear masks or face coverings when working with the public or within 6 feet of others.
Survey question: In my experience, service users (e.g. clients, patients, people in custody) and community members wear masks or face coverings when in county facilities or when interacting with county employees.
Survey question: My work unit has a sufficient supply of masks or face coverings available for service users (e.g. clients, patients, people in custody) and community members, when needed.
Did they have a sufficient supply of face coverings at the time of our audit?
Procurement staff for Donald E. Long said that they have sufficient supply and provided us with inventory lists to demonstrate this. However, our office’s survey found that 55% of Donald E. Long employees felt there was always a sufficient supply of masks or face coverings for those in custody.
Do they have a sufficient supply going forward?
Management said that they issue youth in detention one washable mask, which reduces the need to order disposable masks. Masks are laundered nightly and youth in detention are issued a clean one in the morning. Unless there are major changes to the supply chain, management stated they should have enough.
Personal Protective Equipment (N95 masks, face shields, gloves, etc.)
Did they have a sufficient supply at the time of our audit?
Procurement staff for the Donald E. Long said that they have sufficient supply, but have to be creative about when to order to find supplies. For example, some online retailers have more supplies available after 10 p.m.
Do they have a sufficient supply going forward?
Yes, but large and extra-large gloves are the most difficult items to find. They had enough at the time of the audit, but these items have the greatest risk of running out.
Had DCJ management redeployed staff from other areas to the Donald E. Long, or has management hired new staff?
Early in the pandemic, a Central Human Resources policy allowed staff to claim a hardship and work from home. Seventeen percent of Juvenile Custody Services Specialists claimed a hardship, which put a strain on the staff still working onsite. Given the nature of the work, managers found it difficult to find meaningful tasks for the employees at home. Management approached the unions twice about having staff employed elsewhere in DCJ to temporarily work at Donald E. Long. There are different unions representing these employees, and management and the unions were not able to come to an agreement.
More recently, Central HR changed the policy about how people who work from home can record their work hours. Those unable to perform their work from home must take leave. This resulted in most of the employees with a hardship exemption returning to work onsite at Donald E. Long.
DCJ management said that early in the pandemic, many on-call staff chose not to work due to concerns about COVID-19. HR notified the on-call staff that they either needed to make themselves available at least 20 hours per month or be taken off the on-call list. Most on-call employees chose to be available, which has helped with staffing at Donald E. Long.
Are there enough staff moving forward?
According to management, Donald E. Long still has staffing challenges, but it is greatly improved from the beginning of the pandemic.
Are there any other staffing concerns?
According to management, the remaining staffing challenges are primarily related to issues that existed prior to the pandemic.
Physical distancing adaptations
What changes had they made to physical layouts and operations for providing services and continuing operations?
The physical layout is not significantly different, but the numbers of youth in detention is lower, so they are able to have more physical spacing. During the pandemic, the pods have been at about 25-70% of capacity.
What guidance or protocols were there for visitors at the time of our audit?
According to management, visits with family are in a no-contact room. They must be pre-scheduled and there is a limit of two visits per week. Professional visits are also in the no-contact room. There are two special rooms for youth in detention to meet with attorneys, psychologists, and investigators. These are reserved for those with very serious charges that would have been previously charged under Measure 11. The rooms have Plexiglas on the table and all parties must wear a mask. Visitors must answer health screening questions. Staff disinfect the room between uses. Management said that youth in detention may call their parents and/or other approved contacts every day at no charge.
How had they adjusted intakes, and did the approach appear safe?
Donald E. Long management can encourage law enforcement to reduce the number of youths brought in, but cannot control the inflow. Law enforcement has not brought in as many juveniles since the pandemic started, and there has been a decline of youth in custody. Each pod at the Donald E. Long can hold up to 16 youths, but during the pandemic, there have been 4-11 youths in each pod.
When new youths are brought to the facility, staff do an initial medical screening and then a nurse performs an additional screening to check for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms. If no symptoms are noted, they are placed with the general population. For the first 14 days, their symptoms are checked every day.
According to management, for those with a potential exposure or symptoms, they are placed in a medical isolation room until test results come back.
Did the new approach mean some people who would have been at Donald E. Long pre-pandemic are not housed there?
Some youths who would have otherwise been at the Donald E. Long have been cited and released by law enforcement. In other instances, Juvenile Custody Services Specialists and judges have placed youths on alternative to detention plans. According to management, some plans have worked as intended, but some youths have returned to Donald E. Long when they did not follow their plans.
What happens if youth or staff exhibit symptoms or test positive?
Management told us that during the time of the audit, there were four Donald E. Long staff who had tested positive for COVID-19: one in the detention center and three at the short-term residential program. DCJ management worked with Multnomah County Public Health to determine who may have been exposed. In the first instance, Public Health staff determined that the positive staff member was not at the building during their infectious phase, but they still tested the youths in the residential program and none of them tested positive.
In the most recent situation, management shut down the Donald E. Long residential program and sent the kids home or to other placements. The main reason they shut down was because they did not want to bring staff from detention into the residential program and then risk them bringing COVID-19 into the detention unit. Prior to shutting down the residential program, the kids were quarantined and not allowed to use any of the facilities used by the youth in detention. Janitorial staff did a deep clean of the residential program before DCJ management reopened it.
Were educational opportunities available to youth in detention during the pandemic at the time of our audit?
Prior to the pandemic, the Oregon Department of Education provided in-person instruction to the youth in detention for 6.5 hours each day. During the spring of 2020, the Oregon Department of Education suspended school due to the pandemic. In July, in-person school resumed for juvenile detention centers, but a teacher tested positive in August, so the Oregon Department of Education switched to remote teaching at Donald E. Long. Teachers now come to an empty pod and remotely interact with youth in detention via Chromebooks. DCJ management told us that Multnomah County has the only juvenile detention center in the state that does not have in-person teaching (of the centers that have requested it). At the time of this audit, management was concerned that youths in custody in Multnomah County may not be receiving the same quality of instruction offered elsewhere.
- Immediately upon the issuance of this report, we recommend that managers consistently enforce face covering policies with their staff.