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Aid and Assist FAQs

Answers to some common questions about "aid and assist" in Washington County, Oregon


The number varies by month but currently there are approximately 40 people who are unable to assist in their own defense and are receiving restorative services at the Oregon State Hospital.

On August 29, 2022, Federal District Court Judge Michael Mosman issued a ruling that limits the amount of time that aid and assist defendants can stay at the Oregon State Hospital (OSH). The ruling was meant to help the OSH comply with a previous court order that requires them to admit aid and assist defendants within seven days. The maximum amount of time these defendants can now stay at the state hospital are:

  • Misdemeanors: 90 days
  • Felonies: six months
  • Measure 11 crimes: one year

This puts a big strain on our criminal justice and behavioral health systems here in Washington County and can pose a risk to community safety. The new timelines do not consider whether the defendant can actually participate in their own defense. This means that patients who must return to their local jurisdiction before treatment is complete are not able to stabilize and receive care in an appropriate environment.

The County has a system of mental health care within the community that can provide “restoration services” to most returning aid and assist defendants. However, there are other individuals who may be a serious threat to public safety and need a secure environment to complete restoration that doesn’t currently exist outside of the Oregon State Hospital.

The court will carefully weigh all factors, including available treatment or restoration options. The Mosman order makes clear that returning defendants may not be sent back to the Oregon State Hospital, except for very limited circumstances. Depending on a defendant’s individual case, the judge could decide to send a defendant to a secure residential treatment facility or the Washington County Jail to receive restoration services. Also, if the District Attorney believes that the person meets the criteria of an “extremely dangerous person,” they can file a petition with the court for civil commitment as an Extremely Dangerous Person.

In cases where the victim has asked to be notified, they will be contacted by phone (during business hours) or by mail. Victims are also encouraged to register with the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) network to receive automated notifications via email, text, or phone call. Once they are signed up, they can also check custody status information online at any time. Victims who have concerns about case notifications can call the Washington County Victim Assistance line at 503-846-8314.

Jail facilities and systems are not designed or staffed to provide the type of care needed by these individuals. Also, according to mental health experts, staying in the jail could cause their condition to deteriorate. Even if the Washington County Jail were an appropriate place, funding would be needed for more staff, including deputies and mental health care providers.

Additionally, the Washington County Jail is operating at reduced capacity due to staffing shortages. To make room for people returned from the Oregon State Hospital, some other people in custody who are awaiting trial may have to be released early. These “forced releases” could put community safety at risk. It is also possible that some of those released early would not show up for future court proceedings.

Washington County has joined several other local jurisdictions to provide additional perspectives on Judge Mosman’s order. A hearing was held in January 2023 to review the order, however Judge Mosman declined to revoke his original order at that time. Another hearing is scheduled to take place in April 2023.

The criminal justice and behavioral health systems can sometimes overlap. Washington County staff from various departments and programs have worked together for years to maintain the balance between equal justice and community safety. Over the past few years, several procedures have been created to minimize local jail time for aid and assist defendants and maximize public safety:

  • A special court docket, led by a judge, includes informal case staffing by defense attorneys, prosecutors and behavioral health professionals.
  • The County’s Rapid Fitness to Proceed Program shortens the amount of time that defendants must wait in the Washington County Jail for “fitness to proceed” determinations. The program has reduced the average wait time from 62 days to 16, freeing up critically needed jail space for other criminal defendants awaiting court appearances The program saved 1,472 total jail days for 39 defendants in 2022. If calculated in dollars and cents at $264.78 per person, per day, this would amount to $475,015.32.
  • A partnership with the Beaverton Municipal Court was formed to divert people with mental health challenges from going to jail for non-violent offenses and getting treatment instead.
  • The County has hired additional behavioral health staff who use proven best practices to manage and support aid and assist defendants.

To focus on urgent needs within the community, before they lead to a crisis and potentially violent outcomes, several other innovative programs have been put into practice over the years:

The County also continues to move forward with plans to open the new Center for Addictions Triage and Treatment in late 2024 or early 2025. As state and federal resources become available, we will invest in creating more capacity for mental health treatment. We will also continue to provide support for the Family Justice Center of Washington County and CARES NW to help focus on some of the known contributors to mental illness such as domestic abuse, family violence and childhood trauma.

Additional mental health treatment facilities, including secure residential treatment facilities, are urgently needed to provide services to defendants charged with serious and violent crimes who are released from the Oregon State Hospital before they are able to assist in their own defense. Funding for workforce expansion is also critical to ensure we have enough highly trained staff to do this important work.

Oregon’s long history of underfunding our behavioral health system has contributed to this crisis. We need a significant investment of state and federal resources for system expansion and coordination of care. This would help to address a wide range of mental health needs across the community and improve health and safety for all.