On the Friday of Father’s Day weekend, a group of adults in custody (AICs) and fathers housed at Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) celebrated the holiday in typical dad fashion: on a fishing trip with their kids. The trip was part of the department’s efforts to humanize and normalize the prison environment, a strategy known as the “Oregon Way.”
Under the supervision of DOC staff and leadership, nine AICs and 20 children spent a beautiful, sunny day fishing at McNary Damn in Umatilla. While the pastime is shared by many Oregonians on Father’s Day, this particular fishing trip was born out of TRCI’s vision “to stop the generational-criminal cycle by AICs engaging in a positive, pro-social visiting event, away from the razor wire fences and the sound of loud steel doors closing behind them,” according to Mandi Perry, TRCI’s Assistant Superintendent of Correctional Rehabilitation.
Many TRCI team members were inspired to get involved. TRCI’s dentist, Ms. Amos, generously purchased and donated all the fishing poles for this event. At the end of the day, each child returned home with a big smile and their very own fishing pole. Children over the age of 12 had fishing licenses for the day, their dads tasked with keeping the tags on hand should they need to show proof of the licenses.
TRCI Superintendent Erin Reyes expressed her gratitude for being in a position “to foster positive organizational and cultural change” and emphasized, “It took a village to plan this and everyone pitched in. I am also very appreciative for our agency partner from the Oregon State Police who participated in the event.” Oregon State Police Sergeant Lisa Sater attended the event in collaboration with TRCI, speaking with each AIC father and checking licenses. This normalized the process of engaging with law enforcement. Sgt. Sater also provided each child with a bracelet and key chain to take home with them.
After saying goodbye to his seven-year-old daughter, who had never been fishing with her dad before, one AIC shared, “this made me feel like a human again.”