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Oregon Prisoners Protesting Wildfire Response Conditions
Occured at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution

On September 11 at around 10:00 p.m., male adults in custody (AICs) at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution (DRCI) left their housing units to protest emergency conditions put in place by the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) in response to state wildfires. Approximately 200 male AICs refused to follow direction and return to their housing units from the yard. All but 12 AICs returned to their housing units by 2:00 a.m. on September 12. DOC’s Crisis Negotiation Team was deployed, and no force was used to clear the yard. The remaining 12 AICs were placed in special housing and transferred to another institution. No employee or AICs required medical treatment.

There are two facilities on-site at DRCI – one minimum security and one medium security. As of September 10, the DRCI AICs were being housed in the medium facility and needed to be transferred to the minimum facility to accommodate the multi-custody level evacuees from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF). Before this move, the minimum facility was vacant.

At this time, the men do not have access to traditional phones because the minimum facility had not been in use since 2016 and phones could not be set up with such short notice. DOC employees had been working to provide the men in the minimum facility with phone calls via employee work phones. DRCI is collaborating with our AIC telephone provider to install ten new AIC phones in this facility. Because the CCCF AICs were moved into the active facility, they have access to phones, video calls, and tablets.

The protesting AICs demanded changes to emergency operations, citing the poor air quality from wildfires, temporary lack of access to phones, and other disruptions caused by the CCCF evacuation. DRCI employees will continue to communicate with AICs as the state battles historic wildfires across Oregon. An ongoing investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the incident.

Deer Ridge Correctional Institution (DRCI) is located four miles east of Madras in central Oregon. DRCI is a multi-custody prison that currently houses 947 minimum-custody incarcerated adults. DRCI provides a range of correctional programs and services including education and trades programs, mental health treatment, cognitive and parenting programs, and institution work crews. Construction began in October 2005 with the first minimum-security adults in custody (AICs) arriving in September 2007. DRCI is the largest minimum-custody facility in the state and Oregon’s fourteenth prison.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-09-12 12:07:53Last Update: 2020-09-12 12:21:46

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