SCI Adult in Custody’s Art Skills Bring Staff and Incarcerated People Together

This article was written by Sergeant Shawna Bronson, who has worked for the Oregon Department of Corrections for 23 years. The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.

AIC Pedro Perez

Adult in Custody Pedro Perez came from a crime-ridden family, multi-generational at that. At a young age, he learned how to handle drugs and witnessed violence perpetrated by his own mother. Criminal ways and gangbanging were the norm. Perez’s father was in prison and his mother supported her family the only way she knew how—selling drugs and invading homes. A criminal mentality was instilled in Perez early in life, and at the age of 13 he found himself sentenced to 4-5 years of juvenile detention with an aggravated assault conviction. Perez explained he had so much anger and rage that he turned to gang activity as an unhealthy outlet for these emotions.

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A Very Merry Christmas at SCI

One little boy couldn’t believe his eyes when Santa walked in to the visiting room at SCI

Santiam Correctional Institution (SCI) once again celebrated a successful family Christmas event on the evening of December 12, 2019. Nearly 40 adults in custody (AICs) were able to participate in the event this year, and 65 children joined in the fun with their chaperones bringing the total number of participants up to 137!

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AIC Spotlight: Art Inside Out

Adult in custody (AIC) Kirk Charlton has published several children’s books that he wrote and illustrated during his incarceration at the Oregon Department of Corrections. His books are part of a series called “I WANNABE.” Each book depicts stories about kids from all cultures and backgrounds who are fascinated with different career opportunities. Being part-Hawaiian, AIC Charlton shared that diverse representation in children’s literature is important to him. The stories are informative, inspirational, and describe different careers and hobbies in detail. AIC Charlton believes his books can make a difference in how children experience the world.

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Santiam Correctional Institution walks “Out of the Darkness”

AIC Pedro Perez speaks to SCI’s “Out of the Darkness” attendees as Dan Bielenberg, Shea May, and Ryan Price look on.

In early 2017, Santiam Correctional Institution (SCI) committed to build a partnership with AFSP in an effort to educate and assist with funding and research to reduce suicide in correctional settings. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has been a leader in research and reduction of Suicide in the United States since 1987.  Thanks to this partnership, SCI was the first correctional facility in the nation to host such a suicide prevention walk!

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Turning Tassels at Santiam Correctional Institution

Sixteen adults in custody at Santiam Correctional Institution (SCI) received their GED degrees today as part of the facility’s winter graduation commencement ceremony. The GED program is made possible through a partnership with Chemeketa Community College’s Corrections Education department.

Adults in custody stand in cap in gown at the recent commencement ceremony

Jordan Bermingham, Director of Corrections Education at Chemeketa, spoke to the graduates, along with Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) facilitators, tutors, and students. Chemeketa enrolls between 200 and 350 students in English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and the GED programs – not only at SCI but also at the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), and Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI).

Chemeketa provides additional education opportunities to around 125 adults in custody. The programs include an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree, an Automatic Technology degree, and a CAD certification.

This incredible opportunity gives adults in custody the opportunity to teach as well as learn! The GED program is taught by inmate tutors and instruction is provided in both one-on-one settings and in groups, with a class size average of 15 students. Education Coordinators work with the tutors to develop curriculum.

Congratulations to the graduates!