1,000 Cranes – A Story of Hope

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.

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From Palate to Palette

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.

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Artist Spotlight – My Story, My Canvas

David Whiting Finds Relief From Stress in His Artwork

David Whiting

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.

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A Story of Accomplishment – By Cassandra Kuhr

BTI President, Doug Dalton presenting Cassandra Kuhr her diploma

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.

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Art of Communication: Alberto’s Story

Alberto Rodrigues-Ramirez

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.

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Coffee Creek Hosts Carnival Celebrating Family Bonds

This July, Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) held its 17th annual Through a Child’s Eyes (TACE) carnival event. TACE events allow adults in custody (AICs) to invite their children–and now grandchildren–for a day of fun and family connection. The event is sponspored by the Wilsonville Rotary Club and included face painting, balloons, tasty food, and all sorts of games and activities. The puppies from CCCF’s Puppy Program even attended the event, and kids who attended got to practice brushing puppy teeth! What a unique opportunity!

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Oregon Corrections Enterprises Collaborates with University

University of Oregon students and staff tour the OCE garment shop at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution

Last year, Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) and the University of Oregon (UO) created a joint venture to connect design students with adults in custody at the Oregon State Penitentiary and Two Rivers Correctional Institution, with the goal of exploring furniture design and creating prototypes. Through a friendly competition, OCE awarded scholarships to the winning UO teams, and the project was featured at a furniture design show in New York City.

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