MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OR - As the sheriff of Multnomah County, I take seriously the responsibility for providing care and supervision within our corrections facilities. I recognize that any death in custody has a profound impact on an individual’s family, victim(s) of their alleged crime(s), people housed with them, as well as staff working in our corrections facilities.
When an in-custody death occurs, per our policy, the East County Major Crimes Team performs a death investigation, in conjunction with the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office. This helps us answer questions as to why the event happened and assess our response, and our partners’ response to the emergency. Policies, practices and procedures are reviewed as a part of each investigation.
This year, five people have died in our custody. While the Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause of each death at a later time, I do want the community to know that none of the deaths are related or connected to each other. The following includes the names of the decedents, their age, and date of death:
- July 19, 2023: 31-year-old Josiah G. Pierce
- June 22, 2023: 53-year-old Kashi Abram Harmon
- June 16, 2023: 58-year-old Martin Todd Franklin
- May 13, 2023: 31-year-old George Allen Walker
- May 2, 2023: 26-year-old Donovan Anthony Wood
There are many factors that may contribute to a death in custody, just as there are for deaths in the community. Jails are a microcosm of society, reflecting trends we see and feel across the region and country, and justice-involved individuals typically have higher care needs for a number of reasons, including, a lack of preventative health care access prior to incarceration, the presence of chronic illnesses, substance abuse issues, mental illnesses, and other socio-economic factors.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office provides all adults in custody access to medical, mental health and addiction services and resources through our corrections health partners, and in collaboration with our partners, we are always looking for ways to provide better care or access. I am committed to identifying and implementing solutions to prevent deaths in our custody, and my team and I continue to work with our local, state and federal partners, to help achieve our collective health and safety goals.