Time to Grow

The adults in custody (AICs) at Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI) take pride in their garden growing skills! So far this year, they have produced all kinds of vegetables to be used in the kitchen at the institution.

At the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC), all 12 facilities have garden programs, they are part of the Sustainability initiative. Growing Gardens-Lettuce Grow, a nonprofit organization, in conjunction with the Oregon State University Master Gardner’s program provides educational materials about the art and science of growing and caring for plants to educate and teach sustainable organic gardening practices to AICs.

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Hiroshima Peace Tree

When a seed gets planted at Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), a vision is soon to follow, and through thoughtful planning and motivation, attainment is the result. When the seeds of a surviving Gingko Tree of the Hiroshima atom-bombing in 1945 were planted, the saplings swiftly became symbols of peace and resilience as they were distributed worldwide. Aptly named “Hiroshima Peace Trees” also known as “Hibakujumoku,” one of 53 planted seeds and saplings in Oregon made their way to a location that was a first and only of its kind. With the collaboration of the Green Legacy Hiroshima Project, One Sunny Day Initiative, Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC), a Hiroshima Peace Tree was planted on the grounds of the Oregon State Penitentiary, a multi-custody prison in Salem, Oregon.

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Union Pre-apprenticeship Construction Training for Incarcerated Women

The Ironworkers Local 29, Bricklayers Local 1, and Cement Masons Local 555 partnered to launch the Union Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training (U-PACT) program, which offers training to women at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF).

The program received a state grant and gives preference to adults in custody, who are within six months of their release date, the opportunity to apply for the program. The first cohort of 12 pre-apprentices began this April. The women began the 10-week course that includes 6-weeks of safety and job training from the ironworkers, and 2-weeks of training each from the cement masons and bricklayers.

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Let’s Go Fishing

Go Fish! It’s not just a card game, it is an honored and accessible pastime that all families can benefit from, especially here in Oregon.

Whether you are reeling in a stringer full of fish, just feeding that ever-elusive trophy trout, snagging trees, taking a nap under the shade of a tree with your kid, or holding a worm for the first time…any day fishing is a GOOD DAY!

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Art of Communication: Manuel’s Story

The Art of Communication is a program offered to qualifying adults in custody (AICs) at a number of Oregon Department of Corrections’ institutions across the state. Developed by Chaplain Trime Persinger at Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI), the course teaches AICs how to build positive relationships and manage conflict situations through everyday conversations. This post is part of a series which aims to share the stories of AICs who have been impacted by the program.

Below, AIC Manuel Arellano explains how the program has changed his mindset. AIC Arellano shared his experience with Trime Persinger, who wrote it down as follows:

A lot of times I’m very apprehensive to share my stories because I’m conscious of what the other person will think of me. That makes me shy to express these things from my past but if it will help someone it’s OK.

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Blue Mountain Community College Holds Last Graduation Ceremony at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution

On June 8, 2023, a proud group of adults in custody (AICs) gathered in the chapel at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) with a small number of loved ones and several staff. GED Instructor, Mr. Villers, opened the ceremony, followed by a wonderful invocation by Chaplain Zuleta. This was a bitter-sweet moment for all, as this is the last graduation ceremony with Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC). EOCI has enjoyed a long partnership with BMCC, and while we are sad to see them go, we look forward to continuing education programming for AICs. 

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South Fork Forest Camp Saves the Day

South Fork Crews spent 16 days providing Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) with the manpower to complete a very special task. ODFW needed to mark (fin clip) a very particular fin for the fish they are raising and did not have the manpower to get the task accomplished in time. The adults in custody (AICs) at South Fork stepped up and got just over 300,000 Fall Chinook clipped to make this a successful year for the Klaskanine Salmon Fish Hatchery project. The team at ODFW was so impressed with the hard work and effort put into this project, they provided the crew with BBQ ribs and Root beer. This is a well-deserved lunch for the adults in custody. They even ended their day tossing a football around.

South Fork has been invited back next year to help with the fin clipping project and will no doubt make the Department of Corrections proud once again!

New Activities Gym at Snake River Aims at Improving AIC Health and Wellness

Last fall, Lacey Mackenzie-Yraguen was given the opportunity to travel to Norway as a member of the Resource Team at Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI). While touring the Norwegian prisons, she learned more about their philosophy around incarceration and their approach to humanization. Lacey is a mental health professional and found herself able to easily align to their beliefs, strategies, and approaches to adults in custody (AICs). Working with Amend in their Prison Culture Change Initiative, she found great value in their vision of creating and implementing public health-oriented correctional practices among the staff and AICs. 

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Two Rivers Metal Shop

The metal shop housed at the Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) offers a unique opportunity for adults in custody to learn the trade of welding and provide them with skills for a career upon their release. Former AICs who worked in the metal shop are now gainfully employed welders, working for reputable companies. Currently, there are seven AICs who have the coveted positions working inside the metal shop.

The most common projects fabricated in the metal shop are items like benches, tables, carts, and kitchen equipment. These items are put to use within the institution. Beyond the products fabricated for institution use, are items like firepits, stoves, gates, and signs.

Inside the metal shop, AICs can earn certifications in welding giving them the opportunity to be gainfully employed in iron work, heavy equipment manufacturing, metal fabrication, shipyards, and other manufacturing industries. It also provides an opportunity for a creative expression while learning the trade of welding.

Andrew Smith has been the shop coordinator at TRCI for 12 years, and really enjoys working with AICs, and providing them with a roadmap for a successful future outside prison. AIC Jarrod Pardun, one of the program participants, shared an analogy about learning welding: it’s like a haircut “You can always fix a mistake when welding, like you can fix a bad haircut – it might not be perfect, but it won’t be as messed up as it was in the beginning”.

From left to right: Thomas Urvina, Jarrod Pardun, Toby Cox,
Kevin Luna-Gonzales, James Jones, and John Mahone

Two Rivers Hosts Injustice 2 Tournament

Injustice 2 tournament winner Alexander Tanguy

Two Rivers Correctional Institution’s incentive unit PS4 video game tournaments has been a huge hit! The Paradigm Shift Club (PSC) hosted another video game tournament this year (first was Madden 23) but the Injustice 2 tournament received significantly more interest than the previous event.

The initial bracket is generated for each incentive unit where AICs play their on-unit tournament to determine an overall unit winner. The winner from each unit then plays in the final event against all eight housing units including the Minimum facility.

The video game tournaments are popular amongst the population because it reminds many AICs of their life before prison as many are lifelong gamers. Gaming has become a pastime and favorite activity within prison as well. The game tournaments offer AICs a platform to compete and put their skills on display for the institution.

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