Wildfire disruptions spur protest by Oregon inmates
Inmates at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras left their housing units to protest emergency conditions at about 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections.
About 200 of the 974 inmates refused to follow directions and return to their housing units from the yard, DOC said.
All but 12 had returned by 2 a.m. Sept. 12.
DOC's Crisis Negotiation Team arrived, and no force was used to clear the yard, DOC said. The remaining 12 inmates were placed in special housing and transferred to another institution. No staff or inmates needed medical treatment.
The prison has two facilities, one medium and minimum security. The minimum security facility was vacant, despite the fact that prisoners require minimum security. On Sept. 10, the inmates were transferred to the minimum security facility to accommodate evacuees from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.
The phones in the minimum security facility hadn't been used since 2016 and so were not operating. DOC employees had been working to provide the men with phone calls via employee work phones, DOC said.
The Coffee Creek inmates do have access to phones, video calls and tablets.
The protesting inmates demanded changes to emergency operations, citing the poor air quality from wildfires, temporary lack of access to phones, and other disruptions caused by the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility evacuation, according to DOC.
Deer Ridge employees will keep communicating with inmates as the state battles the wildfires acrosss Oregon, DOC said, adding that an ongoing investigation is being conducted to "determine the cause of the incident."
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