October 29, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Jessica Morkert-Shibley, 971-563-3735, jessica.morkert-shibley@multco.us Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, 503-709-9858, julie.sullivan-spinghetti@multco.us

Multnomah County selects firm to guide and forge path toward a new model of public safety  

Multnomah County’s Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) is pleased to announce the selection of global consulting firm, Territory, to help guide and forge the path toward building a new model of public safety in Multnomah County, Oregon, that is founded on racial equity and community restoration.

Territory, using its expertise in innovative, human-centered design and visual facilitation, will be instrumental in aligning and pushing forward the conversations among LPSCC partners and stakeholders toward a shared, reinvented vision of public safety informed by both the community and criminal legal system stakeholders. 

LPSCC has long focused on coordinating efforts among local partners to promote a more equitable criminal legal system. However, in January 2020, the council began a process of envisioning a wholly transformed public safety system during the What Works in Public Safety Conference, which gathered local and national experts from healthcare, human services and the judiciary, as well as law enforcement, defense attorneys, community providers, victims’ rights advocates and representatives from county and city government. 

That conference concluded with a collective pledge to focus strategies on transforming the current system into one that is adequately equipped to respond to behavior rooted in social problems, such as racism and poverty. Participants agreed that the most effective pathway toward that goal is by shrinking unnecessary incarceration and growing approaches grounded in housing, health, behavioral health and culturally specific supports.

“Multnomah County and LPSCC are excited to work with Territory to find a new North Star for the criminal legal system. With their help, we will develop a strategy to build a system that connects people with the support they need to heal and succeed, while keeping the community safe and investing in upstream interventions,” said County Chair Deborah Kafoury, who also serves as the LPSCC co-chair. 

"The protests in our community and across the country speaking out against racial injustice give us a visceral sense of urgency and accountability for this work. It's up to us to put an end to the disproportionate harm perpetuated against people of color by taking on the work of systemic change."

Study after study — including a 2019 W. Haywood Burns Institute report commissioned by LPSCC — has found that significant disparities continue to impact communities of color in Multnomah County. And even with a reduction in the rate at which people of color are involved in the justice system, people of color, and particularly Black people, continue to experience higher rates of prosecution and incarceration. 

Territory will facilitate a unique process of collaboration between criminal legal system leaders, health system leaders, elected officials, providers, victims of crime and individuals with lived justice system experience. As an agency without previous affiliations to criminal justice work, Territory will be able to focus on uncovering and capturing the public safety expertise that exists among the stakeholders participating in this effort.

And with years of experience in remote facilitation, Territory is poised to lead the work effectively and efficiently in the midst of a global pandemic.

“The vision for a new public safety system is diffused across stakeholders who have seen firsthand the ways in which systemic failures lead to inequities and cycles of harm in our community. Territory is positioned to help us strategically identify, distill and connect the dots to build that vision,” said Erin Greenawald, an attorney for victims of crime, who sat on the selection committee. “We believe that Territory is well equipped to facilitate LPSCC’s efforts to align and collaborate on public safety efforts across the region toward a new shared model.”

Eighteen firms responded to LPSCC’s request for proposal, which was originally released on March 13, 2020. By the time the selection committee identified three finalists, the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd had significantly impacted adjudication, incarceration and other criminal legal system functions. Anticipating that this work would take place in an altered criminal legal landscape, the selection committee requested further information from the finalists.

“Every part of the criminal legal system has had a role in maintaining the status quo to the detriment of communities of color. It’s our collective responsibility to build a new system that is focused on being racially just, repairing harm, and restoring individuals and the community,” said Multnomah County Behavioral Health Director and LPSCC executive committee member Ebony Clarke, who also sat on the selection panel. 

For more information on Multnomah County’s Justice and Equity Agenda please visit: multco.us/justiceagenda