This article was written by Tonya Gushard, a Public Information Officer and employee at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Oregon. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Behind these walls we are one community. OUR community. The community we call the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Our community consists of over 350 employees, over 2,000 adults in our care and custody (AICs), and hundreds of volunteers and contractors. The Oregon Department of Corrections’ mission is to hold offenders accountable for their actions and reduce the risk of future criminal behavior, but it is our passion to create a safe and healthy environment, with the responsibility of creating better neighbors where positive and pro-social change occurs. A place where people will become healthy, productive, and contributing members of society.
The first Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) family picnic of the year was held on the sunny Saturday of June 22nd. Families gathered on the West yard and in Multi for the daylong event. The day was a total success, with 138 participating AICs and 348 visitors attending!
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!
Over the weekend, the Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI) minimum facility hosted a Father’s Day event where adults in custody (AICs) could wear regular clothes while celebrating the day with friends and family. Snake River had five AICs and fifteen visitors participate in the event, which was combined with a luncheon.