Inmates and family members are asking the Oregon Department of Corrections to change the rules involving their visitation rights, disciplinary methods, and transfer policies.
According to Street Roots News, the advocates of these departmental changes are addressing how the prison system is specifically handling the visitation, discipline, and transference of people of color.
Whether or not a person is estranged from an adult child or a former spouse, that particular person has the right to petition visitation with other relatives and grandchildren. This is a basic rule often called companionship that applies to all, except many Oregon inmates, where inmates are often transferred to facilities far from their families, which creates visitation barriers.
As found by research compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative, roughly 31% of all people in the U.S. state prison system receive a visit from a family member or loved one in a single month, despite the fact that maintaining regular contact with family through visitation is one of the best ways to rehabilitate inmates and keep them from committing similar crimes upon their release from prison.
Oregon civil rights activist groups are asking the Oregon Department of Corrections to change the way they handle Hispanic and African-American inmates. Some of the demands these civil rights groups are making are increased transparency throughout, and audit system when it comes to disciplinary actions, and reforms in the way transfers are handled.
“We have anecdotal reports from folks that are incarcerated that these policies are being applied disproportionately to certain communities of black and brown people,” said Mat dos Santos, legal director of ACLU of Oregon. In late September, the ACLU of Oregon, Don’t Shoot Portland, and Voz Hispana Cambio Comunitario sent representatives to meet with Colette Peters, the director of Oregon Corrections.
The representatives were sent with signed letters from approximately 100 civil rights and religious leaders asking for revisions of these policies and how they are applied to African-American and Hispanic inmates.