Portland Hospitals Funnel Vulnerable Patients into Criminal Justice System, Report Finds

In Portland, some people seeking help at a hospital will be treated by a doctor and leave with a long-term plan to address their specific health needs. Others might get the cops called on them.

A new report by Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) reviews every instance—over the course of one year—where officers with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) were called to one of six local hospitals to address what hospital staff call an “unwanted” person. In police terms, these are people who appear to be violating Oregon’s criminal trespass law by not leaving the hospital after being asked to leave.

The majority of the 142 cases inspected by DRO involved people who were seeking health care or who had just been discharged from care at the hospital. Most of those arrested after being discharged identified as homeless. Thirty percent of all reports included someone who was seeking mental health care and 74 percent of the cases involved someone who wasn’t posing any kind of physical threat.

The vast majority of these incidents (94 percent) ended in a person’s arrest.

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