MARCH 16, 2006
Portland officials spent millions to build a fancy state-of-the-art jail that they can’t afford to operate and the effect could be deadly for residents of Multnomah County since a record 5,000 violent criminals were released last year due to lack of jail space.
Wapato Jail cost $59 million and was completed nearly two years ago, but the facility remains empty while convicted drug dealers, burglars and con men roam freely because there is nowhere to incarcerate them.
Certainly, the county could have saved millions on the construction and applied the funds to operating costs. As jails go, Wapato is fancy and high-tech with long driveway circles and modern art sculptures on the front lawn. The main building appears like a manor with pink stucco and glass tile on the outside. The interior motif features pastels and there are vaulted ceilings and open-air corridors.
The huge mishap is not surprising in Multnomah County, which has long been accused of severe mismanagement and huge financial problems. In fact, a county employee recently fired for denouncing several financial misdeeds, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit.
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