Multnomah County program will give parolees free stuff for follo - KPTV - FOX 12

Multnomah County program will give parolees free stuff for following rules

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Under the Behavioral Incentives and Reinforcement Program, or BIRP, parole officers can reward their clients for completing program terms with incentives like TriMet passes, hygiene supplies like chapstick and loofahs, candy and snacks. Under the Behavioral Incentives and Reinforcement Program, or BIRP, parole officers can reward their clients for completing program terms with incentives like TriMet passes, hygiene supplies like chapstick and loofahs, candy and snacks.
The county says all too often the jail is a revolving door: the same offenders come out, mess up and then go back inside. In fact, Multnomah County already has two incentive-based programs aimed at stopping the cycle. The county says all too often the jail is a revolving door: the same offenders come out, mess up and then go back inside. In fact, Multnomah County already has two incentive-based programs aimed at stopping the cycle.
“I think that the jails are so crowded that people aren't afraid to screw their parole up,” said parolee Robbie Williamson. “I think that the jails are so crowded that people aren't afraid to screw their parole up,” said parolee Robbie Williamson.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Some convicts in Multnomah County will soon be getting free stuff for following the rules.

A new pilot program operating out of the east county aims to keep parolees in line by offering incentives for following the terms of their release.

Under the Behavioral Incentives and Reinforcement Program, or BIRP, parole officers can reward their clients for completing program terms with incentives like TriMet passes, hygiene supplies like chapstick and loofahs, candy and snacks. The budget is $40,000 from the general fund.

“I think that the jails are so crowded that people aren't afraid to screw their parole up,” said parolee Robbie Williamson.

Williamson was surprised to learn about the program.

“The incentive is to show up and not go to jail,” Williamson said.

The specific rewards are up to the parole officers.

The county says all too often the jail is a revolving door: the same offenders come out, mess up and then go back inside. In fact, Multnomah County already has two incentive-based programs aimed at stopping the cycle.

Currently, START and STOP offer incentives and guidance to keep drug offenders from re-offending.

For example, STOP provides incentives like free restaurant meals, OMSI passes and movie tickets for staying clean and fulfilling program requirements, according to the program's website.

“It works for me. It's like an added bonus for doing the next right thing,” said STOP client Mark Meeks, who said he was arrested for methamphetamine possession after years of struggling with addiction.

There are still sanctions for bad behavior, including jail time. But if clients like Meeks complete the program successfully, their record is expunged of their drug charge.

The county estimates STOP saved taxpayers around $9 million over 10 years by keeping chronic re-offenders off drugs and out of jail.

“I have a son and a daughter and I can take the gift card I'm getting and give it to them,” Meeks said. “So it's helping me and my family to stay clean.”

Unlike STOP and START, a spokeswoman for Multnomah County says BIRP will not include gift cards for parolees. Because it is only a pilot program, it will start out on a four month trial basis.

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