For notification in emergencies

Just over a week after an inmate escaped from Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, the prison is contacting Madras area residents who want to be notified for any future crises.

In the letter sent to residents, Marissa Wilson, public information officer for Deer Ridge, noted that the prison had implemented a telephone broadcast system in 2008 — shortly after the prison opened its doors in September 2007.

The 6-year-old system did not operate as planned to let residents of the community know that an inmate had escaped at about 9:20 p.m. May 4, but police officers went door to door early the following morning.

By that time, however, the inmate, Clinton Orvill Swearingen II, 31, of Mill City, had stolen a pickup truck from a nearby resident and driven into Madras. He later left his bloody prison clothes in a vacant lot behind a residence on 10th and C streets, and remains at large.

Some residents were alarmed that they had not been notified about the escape, and officials at DRCI set about remedying the situation.

Wilson indicated that the recorded message would go out to as many at 100 phone numbers in as little as 10 minutes with information from DRCI on the nature of the emergency.

"The system will leave a message on your answering machine if no one is available to answer the phone," the letter stated. "If you do not have an answering machine or voice mail, the system will try up to three times to reach you."

Those who want to be notified are asked to return a slip with their phone number and name in the provided stamped envelope by May 25.

The letters were sent out to residents to the east of the prison, to Cherry Lane on the north, Dover Lane on the south, and west to Fifth Street.

On Monday, Wilson said she hadn't received many responses. "We're going to update the notification system that we have now, and do a test here shortly," she said.

"Be prepared to receive a phone call to test the system," Wilson said. "If there are any questions, be sure to contact us. If anyone did not receive a letter, but would like to be included, we would be happy to send one out."

Call Wilson at 541-325-5219 for more information.

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