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.