Fifth Inmate Dies While in Custody at Multnomah County Jail This Year

The latest is Josiah Gaylfor Pierce, who died Wednesday.

news_Inverness-Jail_LaurelKadas_4504 Multnomah County Inverness Jail. (Laurel Kadas)

Josiah Gaylfor Pierce, 31, was found unresponsive on Wednesday afternoon in Multnomah County Inverness Jail, the sheriff’s office announced today. He died shortly thereafter despite paramedics’ efforts to revive him.

It is the fifth death in the county’s jails so far this year. None of them were related, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. There were only three deaths in Multnomah County jails in all of 2022 and none in 2021.

The sheriff’s office has offered few details about the circumstances behind any of the five deaths, although it has determined one was due to natural causes. At least one was an apparent suicide, WW reported.

The jails are struggling with staffing issues amid increased substance use and mental health crises among inmates, county health officials acknowledged last month.

Pierce was booked into the jail May 31 on charges of sex abuse, burglary and fleeing police stemming from an incident in which he allegedly attacked a bartender at a downtown Portland bar.

Detectives and the Medical Examiner’s Office are continuing to investigate Pierce’s death. The sheriff’s office said it could not comment further.

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