`The Wapato Facility, in the city’s northern outskirts, took $59 million and two years to construct. But in the nearly two years since its completion — as Portland has struggled with a crime surge — not a single inmate has set foot in the building.
Multnomah County, in charge of Portland jails, can’t afford to open it.
“We held a ceremony, cut the ribbon — then locked the doors,” says Sheriff Bernie Giusto, who attended the dedication in the summer of 2004. “We have a brand-new jail sitting here empty, and I don’t have a good answer when the public asks me, ‘Why was it built if there was no plan to operate it?’
“Even I get tired of telling people how dumb we are.”‘