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FAQs About Oregon Prisons
Can you tell me if someone has been in prison?
Yes. We can tell you if someone has been sentenced to felony probation or has served time in prison in Oregon.

Call (503) 945-9090 during normal business hours with the person's full name and birth date.
This is a free service of the Department of Corrections.
 
You also can check on line at http://docpub.state.or.us/OOS/intro.jsf or www.vinelink.com.
 

 
Does Oregon have the Death Penalty?
Yes. Click here to learn more about Capital Punishment in Oregon.
 
How can inmates tolerate this kind of life?
Successful inmates, those who will become good citizens on the outside, say that "making it" in prison is a matter of attitude. Those who hold jobs in prison, those who participate in the many programs that the state has to offer for inmates, and those who follow the rules have the best chance of leaving prison as better people than when they were admitted.

 
How come Oregon doesn't have chain gangs?
Chain gangs do nothing to contribute to the department's efforts to mold citizens out of criminals.

We have learned that what works in corrections is a sound, consistent policy of preserving public safety by reducing an offender's risk of criminal conduct.

That mission can be achieved by restructuring the way inmates think, educating them, and teaching them job skills and tools that will allow them to succeed on the outside.
The voters affirmed and strengthened this philosophy in their overwhelming support of the Prison Reform and Inmate Work Act of 1994 (Measure 17) which requires virtually all state inmates to be engaged in work or job training. All institutions in the department will be providing work related services to Oregon's citizens in a variety of ways. Citizens will profit and inmates will learn valuable skills to meet their future needs.

 
How do I find out more about working in corrections?
Please visit the Web site at, www.odocjobs.com to find out about career opportunities.

Most entry-level positions in the department are correctional officers, who supervise the day-to-day activities of the state´s inmate population.

The department provides training and uniforms. Officers supervise inmates 24 hours a day and work many different shifts.

It is an exciting and rewarding career with many opportunities for advancement.

 
How many ex-inmates succeed after release?
Oregon's recidivism rate is about 30%. The majority of felons managed in the community are not convicted of a new felony during or after supervision. Conviction on a new felony within three years of beginning supervision (probation or post-prison supervision) is the definition of recidivism in Oregon. About 70 percent of those on supervision do not recidivate.

 
How many prisons does Oregon have?
Oregon has 14 prisons with the penitentiary being the only maximum security institution. 

 
What are you doing about overcrowding?
On a short term basis, emergency beds have been added to the various institutions in the department.

Over the long term, new prison beds will be built. The newest facilities are Warner Creek Correctional Facility in Lakeview and Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras.
 

 
What is prison life like?
Convicted criminals are sent to prison as punishment. They lose all of their freedom and have to follow very strict rules of conduct and order. They do retain some rights as granted by our state and federal constitutions.
 
Prison is like a city within a city. There is a mayor (the superintendent), police (security staff), a jail (disciplinary segregation unit), laws (administrative rules), judges (hearings officers), a store (the canteen), houses (inmate slang for cells), medical care (infirmary), library (law, education and lending), civic organizations (clubs), worship (chapel), a park (the recreation yard), a cafeteria, and of course employment in various jobs throughout the institutions.
 
There is no privacy in prison, meaning that inmates dress, shower, and use the bathroom in the company of other inmates.  Inmates are required to make their bunks and keep their personal possessions neat and tidy.  All inmates wear identical clothing.  Most possessions allowed must be purchased from the canteen.

Meal times are assigned and inmates have 25 minutes in which to eat and leave the dining room, there are no seconds.

Inmates are subject to searches of their person and/or cell at any time.  All movements of inmates from one area to another are regulated.

Visiting is strictly limited.

All phone calls (except legal calls) are recorded and monitored and must be made collect or with a pre-paid debit card.
 
There is "no smoking" at the prisons.

 
What is the difference between parole and probation?
Probation is a type of sentence imposed by a judge instead of incarceration in jail or prison.

Parole is the conditional, supervised return to the community of offenders under the release authority of the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision.
 
Post-prison supervision (PPS) is a supervised period following release from prison for offenders sentenced under the sentencing guidelines system.
 
All of these offenders are supervised in the community by parole and probation officers for specific lengths of time (some offenders are subject to lifetime supervision). Parole and probation officers are part of the county-based community corrections system. Except in Linn and Douglas counties, community corrections is separate from the Oregon Department of Corrections and comes under the jurisdiction of the county commissioners.
 
Regardless of the type, supervision generally means the offender is subject to specific conditions, rules and treatment requirements. Offenders who violate or otherwise refuse to comply with their specific conditions may be sanctioned:
  • Probationers may be revoked and sent to incarceration.
  • Parolees are subject to sanctions including revocation back to prison for the remainders of their sentences.
  • Offenders on post-prison supervision subject to sanctions that may include revocation to jail; however, they are not sent back to prison.

 
Why do inmates get out of prison early?
Before November 1, 1989 (when sentencing guidelines came into effect) nearly all inmates sentenced to prison came under the release authority of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision. These were “matrix” offenders.
 
Since sentencing guidelines came into effect most offenders receive release dates based solely on the turning of calendar pages. Exceptions include those convicted of crimes committed before November 1, 1989, those sentenced by the courts as “dangerous offenders,” and murderers and aggravated murderers who are sentenced with eligibility for parole.
 
All other offenders’ release dates are set by the sentencing courts; the Board has no role in determining these dates. When released, these offenders go on “post-prison supervision,” not “parole.”