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Updates

(This information was updated on 5/21/2020)

5/21/2020 DOC Reports In-Custody Death with COVID-19

An Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) adult in custody (AIC) died on May 20, 2020. He was incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary and passed away at a hospital. He tested positive for COVID-19. He was between 50 and 60 years old. Next of kin has been notified. As with all in-custody deaths, the Oregon State Police have been notified and the Medical Examiner will determine cause of death.

As of today, DOC has 38 employees who have tested positive and 148 AICs. For more information on cases, please visit DOC’s Tracking Tool. The agency is responsible for the care and custody of 14,500 adults in custody who are incarcerated in the 14 institutions across the state.

Institutions are cleaning numerous times a day, including disinfecting housing units, bathrooms, eating areas, doors, stairwells, countertops, etc. Posters have been placed in all DOC institutions encouraging adults in custody to wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, to cough and sneeze into their elbow, and to avoid touching their face. Institutions have placed handwashing stations at entrances for staff before entry. Health screening processes are in place before staff are allowed to enter facilities.

At the beginning of April, Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) began manufacturing utility masks at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, Two Rivers Correctional Institution, and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. These masks are designed to reduce the amount of droplets expelled from a person’s cough or sneeze. Every AIC has been offered two masks and employees offered one.

DOC is identifying the especially vulnerable population within the institutions and intensifying the efforts to reduce potential exposure and transmission. If an AIC becomes ill and exhibits flu-like symptoms, then CDC and OHA guidance for supportive care will be followed.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, DOC issued a press release when an AIC passed away. This notification would include the person’s name, county of conviction, sentence length, and date of death. However, no cause of death would be listed because the Medical Examiner makes that determination. In order to balance the desire for transparency with our legal obligation to protect personal health information, we have changed the AIC death notification process when someone dies who has tested positive for COVID. DOC is working with the Oregon Health Authority to publish COVID-19 related data and information on the OHA website.

5/20/2020 Update on Re-opening Visiting

Many of you, and your friends and family, have been asking when DOC will re-open visiting. While we don’t have a specific answer, it is on our minds. The department recognizes how important visiting is to both you and your loved ones. We will open visiting as soon as we possibly can and not increase the spread of COVID-19 in our institutions.

The state has put forward guidelines on when it will be safe for Oregon to re-open. The goal is to protect Oregonians and open in safe and thoughtful ways to ensure COVID-19 won’t continue to spread. This means Oregonians will need to continue practicing physical distancing and mask-wearing while counties prepare to re-open. 

Each county can begin re-opening when:
  • The number of people with new COVID-19 infections has dropped for two weeks or there are less than five COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • There is enough safety equipment for doctors and health care workers.
  • There are enough hospital beds to care for people with COVID-19.
  • Tests are available, and there is a way to track COVID-19.

At the appropriate time, DOC will be mirroring the statewide approach. We will begin to re-open as soon as it is safe to do so in each location. Our top priority is to make sure our facilities are safe and your health is protected.

5/11/2020 OSP on Security Lockdown

The Oregon State Penitentiary is locked down today, and all AICs will remain in their cells. Last night, fights broke out on the yard, and a tower officer fired a warning shot. Approximately 70 AICs were taken to the Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU). No employees were injured, and there were only minor injuries to AICs. This modified operation will continue until the institution can be operated safely for all employees and AICs. Please know, AICs will not be able to use the phone system until normal operations return. DOC is committed to keeping all those who work and live in Oregon’s prisons safe and healthy. 

5/8/2020 Change to Operations at OSP

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Oregon State Penitentiary has had to modify institution operations. These changes will temporarily impact adult in custody access to phones. We appreciate your patience as we work through this challenging time.

4/12/2020 Visiting Suspension Continues

All current suspensions, restrictions, and modifications made to our operations will remain in place until we can safely return to normal. We know things can change quickly, and we will keep you updated of any new information. Visiting is still suspended until further notice.

4/3/2020: DOC's First Adult in Custody Tests Positive for COVID-19

The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) today announced the first adult in custody (AIC) within the Oregon state prison system to test positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The patient is in stable condition and is being treated on-site.

The patient is at Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem, Oregon, and will soon move to an institution with 24-hour nursing care.  The positive test result was received April 2. Additional details cannot be shared about his protected health information.

If an AIC is showing signs and symptoms of influenza or COVID-19, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, they will be tested. DOC uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) guidance on appropriate criteria for testing. Those being tested and/or awaiting results are on respiratory isolation. 

“We have been preparing for the spread of COVID-19 into our institutions, worksites and Community Corrections offices since the beginning of March,” said Director Colette S. Peters. “Even with all of our preventative measures, like restricting visiting, social distancing, and suspending any programs, we knew the first case was inevitable because our institutions are microcosm of our communities. Our agency has focused on this virus and how best to reduce the impact inside our institutions. The necessary protocols are in place to protect our employees and the adults in our custody as best we can. This is a difficult time for all Oregonians, including those in our care. I know the family and friends of the adults in custody are extremely concerned for their loved ones. I can assure you, we are taking all necessary measures to operate safe and secure institutions where people can work and live and stay healthy.”

SCI has taken several steps to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. These actions include: suspension of visiting and volunteer services, canceled group activities, house vulnerable AICs together, slowed down meal line in order to social distance. 

DOC is now contacting all people who entered the institution in the last seven days. All AIC’s will be screened and any presenting with symptoms will be tested for COVID-19. 

As people are tested and test results are returned, DOC will provide updated numbers on the DOC website. DOC is collaborating with our local public health officials, coordinating with the OHA, and following the CDC recommendations to prevent the spread COVID-19. DOC is following OHA’s guidance on long-term care facilities and law enforcement recommendations and CDC’s interim guidance on management of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in correctional and detention facilities.  
 
SCI is a minimum-security prison in Salem that houses approximately 480 AICs who are within four years of release. The facility concentrates on work opportunities, most of which are in the form of work crews contracting with state agencies, local organizations, and private industries within a 60-mile radius of Salem.

4/1/2020: First COVID-19 Case Reported - Oregon Department of Corrections Employee

An employee at the Oregon State Penitentiary has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). For more details, please see our COVID-19 Tracking Tool and visit our Communications Library to view new documents and communications.

3/24/2020: Salem Dome Building Closed to the Public

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Dome Building is closed to the public. Only Department of Corrections employees, pre-approved visitors, water delivery, and Shred-it services are allowed entry.

Dome building employees should reference the Deputy Director’s 3/24/20 email message detailing modified operations.

The Department of Corrections remains committed to supporting Oregonians. For general inquiries, please call (503) 945-9090 or email DOC.info@doc.state.or.us

To deposit funds to an adult in custody’s trust account, please visit the Telmate website or call (866) 516-0115. 

Thank you for your doing your part to keep our state safe and healthy.

3/17/2020: Keeping Adults in Custody in Contact with Loved Ones

Last week, the Oregon Department of Corrections suspended visiting in its 14 prisons for 30 days. Working together with GTL-Telmate, DOC’s communications provider, each adult in custody will be provided two 5-minute, no-cost phone calls per week for the next 30 days, beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020. 

We will revisit this after 30 days and will continue to explore options for AICs to keep in contact with their families. 

DOC commends GTL-Telmate for this act of understanding, support, and compassion during this difficult time. The agency recognizes that efforts to maintain family connections between those incarcerated and their loved ones is essential, especially in stressful times. Furthermore, we know these healthy relationships reduce the risk of future criminal behavior and will continue to explore options for AICs to keep in contact with their families. 

3/14/2020: Video Message from Our Deputy Director

Oregon Department of Corrections Deputy Director speaks on the agency's response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Watch the video now

3/12/2020: All Visiting Suspended in Response to the Coronavirus

Following the State of Emergency issued in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oregon, the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) has suspended all visiting at all 14 state prisons. This is the first time DOC has suspended visiting state-wide. This change is effective March 13, 2020 and will be reviewed in 30 days. This restriction will include non-contact visits where people speak to one another through glass. This will also include limiting institution access to only essential staff.

DOC has no known or suspected cases of COVID-19 at this time. One adult in custody (AIC) has been tested for COVID-19, and the test came back negative.

“All of us at the Oregon Department of Corrections value visiting and especially the connections that visiting affords to family and friends. We know these relationships reduce the risk of future criminal behavior. However, during this State of Emergency, it is critical we take appropriate precautions necessary to protect our employees and those in our care and custody. This decision was not made lightly, and we understand the impact that this necessary action will have on the people in our custody and on their families. We are working hand-in-hand with our state and local partners to keep our institutions as healthy as possible. We will resume normal visiting schedules as soon as humanly possible," said Director Colette S. Peters.

DOC is collaborating with our local public health officials, coordinating with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to prevent the spread COVID-19. DOC Director Colette S. Peters is a member of Oregon Governor Kate Brown's Coronavirus Response Team.

DOC is following OHA's guidance on long-term care facilities and law enforcement recommendations. These changes are to protect AICs who are at the highest risk inside our institutions. DOC's Health Services employees have identified 1,400 AICs who are over 60 years old, immunocompromised, or multiple comorbid medical conditions.

DOC is working with our AIC communications services providers to provide alternatives to in-person visiting at a reduced cost. DOC joins a list of other state corrections agencies that have suspended access. This is the first time DOC has suspended visiting state-wide.

Early Medical Release Requests

Eligibility requirements for the Oregon Board of Parole's Early Medical Release are available on their website.

If you believe an adult in custody meets the requirements linked above, you can initiate a medical release request by calling (503) 934-0780 or sending an email.

Due to the volume of Early Medical Release requests, the Parole Board and DOC will be focusing its limited resources on those individuals whom the Department of Corrections has identified as the most medically fragile or vulnerable. Due to the substantial influx of requests for early release, the board may assess other requests as the Board’s resources allow.

Additional Questions

Contact the Response Team for general assistance.

For media inquiries, call (503) 945-9437 or send us an email.

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