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.Continue reading “Blue Mountain Community College Holds Last Graduation Ceremony at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution”
Oregon State Penitentiary celebrates their Behavioral Health Unit’s first GED graduate – Jacobe Owens!
“My name’s Jacobe. I’m 26 and I finally got my GED. Now, I’ve been through a lot regarding this COVID and having to be patient to finish my GED. I finally got it and I really appreciate DOC continuing to be consistent with helping me achieve the GED. I also want to say that no matter what obstacles were in my way, I rose to the top and achieved this. And just because the DOC members and everybody that consistently chose to help get me through this, I will not stop here. I will continue to get my education, going to community college now that I’ve got two free years of college.”
“To all the DOC staff, I thank you.”Jacobe Owens
There is no debate, Theron Hall, cherishes the Toastmasters Club at the Oregon State Penitentiary
The President of the Capital Toastmasters Club tells his story…
“For twenty plus years, the Oregon State Penitentiary has had support from local colleges and universities, and we have been competing in debates with them. Our goal was to greatly improve our debate program and with the support of our prison administration, College Professors, and our members, we have done just that. In 2009, Professors from Willamette University, Linfield College, and Northwest Christian University began volunteering their time to teach a Parliamentary style debate class to our members. At that point, our debate program began to flourish. In addition to our monthly meetings, cognitive classes, and speech contests, we now hold three debates a year with local colleges and universities and one debate tournament a year.Continue reading “A Toast to the Toastmasters”
I met Timothy Lee Simpkins in 2015, awaiting my own sentencing in county. At the time, we were both were going through an intense period of uncertainty about the future. We connected over the serious amount of time we were both going to be doing, and we ended up serving our time in the same institution, Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. I’ve remained loosely connected to Lee over the years and have witnessed a transformation in him that is profound. Recently, I asked Lee to tell me about his experience.
Lee started his journey with visual art in 2015 when he realized his dream of becoming a musician was going to be put on hold for about ten years. Prior to his incarceration, Lee wrote, recorded and performed music. Spoken word and rap were how he expressed himself. “The first time I performed I was 15 in Berkeley California. I performed at a Cal State open-mic rap concert. I was so nervous getting up there on that stage, but after that first time, I was cool. I found out that the performance space was my natural habitat,” Lee said. He performed a few more times in Portland and Battleground Washington before being incarcerated.Continue reading “An Artist’s Evolution”
An inspiring story from the Oregon State Penitentiary’s (OSP) Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) featuring adults in custody (AIC) Issac Agee and Michael Issac…
From one quiet, dimly lit, and isolated cell of Oregon’s only Death Row Unit, a little bird was born. This was no ordinary bird. It was an “Urban Bird” and although free of feathers and flight, it was full of hope, joy, patience, and gratitude. This is when the art of origami was introduced to one of Oregon State Penitentiary’s adults in custody.Continue reading “1,000 Cranes – A Story of Hope”
Former Chef Finds Culinary Skills Apply Well to the Art Field
“You know how you do homework? It’s the same thing.” Artist Seth Mathews described the variance in styles and art genres as he displayed photographs of hundreds of pieces, he has done over the last seven years. There are stacks of airy water-color art, with opaque black lines and semi-transparent splatters of color. There are lifelike photorealistic pieces where every line, light source, and graffito is thoughtfully placed. There are perspective artwork pieces, with a worm’s eye view to regal elk stepping into a clearing. There are abstract art, graffiti, and portraits – all which make for an unusual contrast in styles for one artist’s portfolio.Continue reading “From Palate to Palette”
David Whiting Finds Relief From Stress in His Artwork
A uniting factor among incarcerated artists is the therapeutic benefit that art delivers to each practitioner. Each person connects to their art in a unique way, but the benefits are similar and equally inspiring. For David Whiting, a visual artist living at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, art has become more than just a hobby – it’s a way of life for him.
Whiting began his journey with art more than 20 years ago while sitting in county jail in Eugene. He began by copying cartoons out of newspapers. Navigating the constant stress and pressures of time spent in county, “sketching and tracing became an escape for me, and eventually a meditation,” he says. Once he got to prison, Whiting began experimenting with nature sketches using a wider variety of mediums.Continue reading “Artist Spotlight – My Story, My Canvas”
Adults in custody (AIC) at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) have an opportunity to learn a new trade skill for jobs post-incarceration.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) recently received a three-year grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance Act. This grant allows DOC to offer an industry recognized certification program through Baker Technical Institute (BTI) for AICs to become Heavy Equipment Operators. The new program uses simulation technology to train women at the correctional facility to use heavy construction machinery.
The AICs will also be trained on First Aid and CPR, Flagger Certification, and Forklift Certification. Wraparound services are also included, such as resume writing, job search assistance, and connections to WorkSource Oregon.
Cassandra Kuhr is one of the adults in custody that graduated from the program, and she has graciously shared her story.Continue reading “A Story of Accomplishment – By Cassandra Kuhr”
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 Alberto Rodriguez-Ramirez uses the tools he learned in the program to demonstrate his patience and understanding. AIC Rodriguez-Ramirez shared his experience with Trime Persinger, who wrote it down as follows:
When I fell, my daughters were seven and eight. They didn’t speak to me for eight years. I sent letters and cards but didn’t receive anything back from them.Continue reading “Art of Communication: Alberto’s Story”
Powder River Correctional Facility (PRCF) held its 7th Annual Family Day Event on August 24, 2019. The event was attended by 40 adults in custody as well as 134 of their friends and family members.Continue reading “Powder River Rocks Family Day”