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An advocacy group focused on the rights of those with disabilities has found improvement in Portland jails, The Oregonian reports. The Multnomah County jail in Portland had been singled out for criticism by Disability Rights Oregon in a report last year. Excessive use of solitary confinement, not enough time outside cells for the inmates, and insufficient access and care for mental health issues are a few of the concerns raised by the group in the initial report. A new report cites much better statistics in this regard.

Now inmates in the mental health unit may leave their cells at least twice a day for 2 to 4 hours at a time. Better staff training in regard to mental health and proper interventions has also taken place. Reports of excessive force in regard to inmates with mental health difficulties was not unheard of, according to the first report. Claims of excessive force by Portland police have had a huge impact on the relations between the community and the police in recent years.

Although Disability Rights Oregon is not completely satisfied with the changes, they do mark the changes as a significant improvement over the issues outlined in the first report. These advocates will be looking for other improvements especially in regard to handling those with diagnosed mental illness. De-escalation in these situations is critical, and having staff specifically trained in mental health will improve police interactions with the community.

Disability Rights Oregon is but one group engaged in aiding defendants. Yet aiding criminal defendants is a key part of a healthy judicial system. The dignity of inmates is and ought to be of major concern to people. Yet that concern also extends to the rights of the accused, not merely the guilty. A vigorous criminal defense is a crucial part of free society that is often forgotten about. A high burden of proof, along with rules concerning evidence and procedure, are hallmarks of our freedom under the law. If you have been accused of a crime, you need a legal partner that will advocate for you from the beginning to the end.

Ed Kroll and Justin Johnson have been advocating for criminal defendants for years now, no matter how serious the accusation. Give them a call if you are in trouble.

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