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Correspondence, DOC Interaction

On the Topic of Segregation…

Oregon CURE has been receiving letters from adults in custody housed in the IMU at Snake River Correctional Institution.  IMU stands for Intensive Management Unit and is where the department assigns “[adults in custody] of custody Level 5 for special security housing and programs separate from general population housing to provide inmate security, control, and supervision.” Most of the correspondence we have received asks Oregon CURE to investigate poor conditions of housing units and mental strain of the adults in custody.  We have passed these concerns on to our contacts at the Oregon Department of Corrections and recently we received the following response from Kelly Raths, an administrator in the Inmate & Community Advocacy office of ODOC:

I’m really glad that folks in custody continue to see CURE as an avenue of voice and advocacy.  There is much work happening in the Department on this topic and needing to continue to happen in this area.

I will be forwarding your request for further information on to the head of our Behavioral Health Services, leaders in our Operations Division and staff at SRCI.
The staff at SRCI is in a good deal of communication with the men out there in special housing about their needs and requests as they have been increasingly vocal at the facility level as well.

Here are a couple things that have recently transpired around special housing:
A new 90 day review process is being put in place so that every person assigned to a special housing unit has a regular and meaningful review process.  We don’t want people getting unnecessarily ‘stuck’ in these places.
A statewide committee has been formed by request of the Director’s Office to take a thorough and honest review of our special housing policies both to examine how people end up in these units, the conditions they experience while there and how we properly transition people back to lower custody housing.
As for the rules of segregation, there are certainly standards of confinement, case law and probably some Oregon Statutes that determine parameters for our rules, but the rule itself is something the Department creates and amends.

You are right, it is a critical issue and I’m grateful you are hearing and responding to concerns of our folks in custody.


5 thoughts on “On the Topic of Segregation…

  1. IMU at Snake River is actually destructive and worthless. To isolate anyone is playing with there sanity. I don’t believe our governor would support this IF he knew about it and actually visited the Unit. You can’t isolate children in schools and inmates are no difference.
    Also while we a re discussing the prison system, they think that leaving a imate in a cell is going to make a positive change. Taking away privileges for one mistake and then having to wait for months before the inmate gets his or her job back
    My suggestion is to send your inmate friend a book called “Time Paradox” by Philip Zimbardo . This is a self help book that actually does promote positive change

    Posted by Louis | September 17, 2014, 11:56 am
    • I am very concerned about the negative impact segregation has on people, too. Louis, thank you for the thoughtful suggestion about the book. I plan to purchase it and promote it to others. I heard there is a book drive going on at one of the prisons, asking for donations of self help books. I will get that info and repost with it.

      Posted by Rebecca | September 18, 2014, 11:45 am
  2. Perhaps we also should look at the United States. We have the highest number of incarcerated people than any other country on earth including China. And for most inmates they learn nothing except to be better at what got them into prison in the first place.

    Posted by Louis | September 17, 2014, 12:10 pm
    This recent story in The Oregonian speaks directly to issues raised by inmates in the IMU at SRCI. It’s encouraging to read that some in prison management and administration are exploring ways to make “segregation” more humane.

    Posted by Donovan Mack | September 17, 2014, 3:41 pm
  4. Isolation cells may seem and may even be necessary in the instance that an inmate’s life may be in danger at the hand of other inmates, but in that case it should be the in mates choice. Otherwise it is pointless and quite inhumane. First thing, 90 day evaluations are still way far off, it should be more like weekly evaluations. Being a previous inmate who was wrongfully put in isolation myself for 45 days, I know that just one day in there is a lifetime and is horrific. I have a loved one who’s been in isolation for a year and a half and hasn’t even been convicted of anything yet. (Innocent until proven guilty? Not so much) Anyway I feel that instead of punishing crimes with solitude and nothingness before rehabilitation, maybe have offenders work, monitored or course but do the things in communities that are lacking, find ways to utilize them to benefit the community and economy somehow along with punishment.

    Posted by Heather | November 24, 2017, 3:28 am

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