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Corrections Concludes Evacuations
More than 3,500 in custody were evacuated and now returned

Marie Garcia, the Legislative and Government Relations Manager with the Oregon Department of Corrections has provided a status update related to the recent wildfire crises. As of September 18, 2020, all adults in custody who were evacuated and relocated due to the wildfires have returned to their home institutions.

She goes on to provide detail:

On September 8, the Oregon Department of Corrections evacuated all employees and adults in custody from Oregon State Correctional Institution, Santiam Correctional Institution, and Mill Creek Correctional Facility and relocated them to the Oregon State Penitentiary – all in Salem – in response to the Beachie Creek (Santiam) fire. The total number of adults in custody evacuated from these intuitions was 1,370. adults in custody returned to Santiam and Mill Creek on September 10 and to OSCI on September 15.

On September 10, the Oregon Department of Corrections evacuated Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville to Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras due to threats from the Riverside and Beachie Creek wildfires. At that time, the institution was determined to be in potential danger as these two fires threatened to merge. The total number of adults in custody evacuated from Coffee Creek was 1,303. The return trip spanned four days so the department could rely on internal resources, including a fleet of buses—the majority of which included restrooms. Meals, water, and hygiene items were sent with each adult in custody, and a supply truck returned Coffee Creek supplies that were taken to Deer Ridge during the evacuation. In addition, an ADA accessible portable restroom was dropped partway along the route, and portable restrooms were made available at Coffee Creek to mitigate any delay in processing adults in custody into the institution. Once Deer Ridge’s medium facility was vacated, adults in custody being temporarily housed in the minimum facility returned to the medium facility -- a move which was also completed on September 18.

The Department of Corrections is aware of the impact the decision to evacuate may have had on the spread of COVID-19 within its facilities and took precautions to mitigate the impact whenever possible. While social distancing is always challenging in a prison environment -- and made even more difficult in the midst of wildfire evacuations -- masks continued to be provided and encouraged among all adults in custody and employees.

As an agency, in this unprecedented time, life preservation was first and foremost in our priorities. Without executing these evacuations, significant loss of life may have occurred. As is the case with any type of evacuation, parts of the plan did not go as smoothly as we would have liked. DOC also did many things extremely well. We are still working through the final parts of these actions but as soon as things return to normal, and the agency is able to review all practices and procedures, we will put together an after-action report that will be available in anticipation of reporting to the appropriate committees during the December legislative days.


The Department has also provided a FAQ document.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-09-24 15:42:56Last Update: 2020-09-24 16:02:35



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