Take Action: Stop Multnomah Cty Sheriff's Callous Ploy/OREGON
This is from the Oregon Criminal Justice Reform Coalition List, and I thought some of you in the Portland area might want to respond too.  There is a sample letter written by Brigette Sarabi from the Western Prison Project at the end of this post.  If any of you do respond, please send me a copy of your letter.

Today I was made aware of a callous ploy by the Multnomah County Sheriff's office to get additional funding. The Sheriff's office has created a web site (www.inmatereleases.org) where they post the name, address, photo and charges against recently released inmates (almost all are low level drug offenders). This is a total scare tactic to try and get more money for their department, at the expense of human services, education, and other needs. I am outraged they are doing this with staff time and resources paid for by our tax dollars.

Please: write, call or email Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn and your county commissioner (see contact info below) and ask them to demand that the sheriff's office take down this site immediately. 

Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn
501 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 600
(note: same address for all the commissioners)
Portland, OR 97214
Phone: 503-988-3308
email: mult.chair@co.multnomah.or.us

Maria Rojo de Steffey, District 1
Phone: 503-988-5220
email: district1@co.multnomah.or.us

Serena Cruz, District 2
Phone: 503-988-5219
email: serena@co.multnomah.or.us

Lisa Naito, District 3
Phone: 503-988-5217
email: lisa.ha.naito@co.multnomah.or.us

Lonnie Roberts, District 4
Phone: 503-988-5213
email: lonnie.j.roberts@co.multnomah.or.us

Sample letter:

Dear Chair Linn and Commissioners,

In these difficult economic times, both government and individuals face severe constraints. Many needs are going unmet, and many difficult funding choices must be made. I have appreciated the thoughtful attention all of our commissioners have given to these issues, and on the whole I have been impressed with the care you have shown for the people of this county.

It was with great distress, then, that I was recently made aware of a website created and maintained by the Multnomah County Sherriff's Office, which I assume is still funded through my tax dollars. The site, www.inmatereleases.org, posts the names, addresses, photos and crimes of inmates recently released due to funding cuts. I believe this is an unethical and outrageous use of tax dollars by one agency in order to secure support for their budget at the expense of others. And clearly, it is meant as a scare tactic. Yet when I looked up several of the inmates' charges, they were almost uniformly minor crimes. 

As a parent of a child in Portland Public Schools, might I suggest a web site with photos of all the children in our community who will be refused a full year of schooling due to the budget crisis? Or perhaps a list of all the frail elderly who will be forced out of nursing homes? Then again, maybe those who have lost funding for their AIDS medication, or mental health treatment could build a web site. But you get the point. Many are suffering right now. In light of this, the Sheriff's Office calculated attempt to win greater support for incarcerating low level offenders offends me deeply. I am angry that my tax dollars go to pay for the staff time to build such a web site. I would have thought that the Sheriff's Office had plenty of real work to do.

Please demand that the Sheriff's Office take down this web site and stop using county resources for this type of public manipulation. And please inform me of any action you take.