Stronger protections for kids in detention

Empty NORCOR youth cell except for mattress.

Update: On March 1, Governor Brown responded to our letter. Read her letter here.

You can read our response below:

“We’re encouraged by Governor Brown’s commitment to and leadership on this issue. We’re pleased to hear that our state is moving forward in improving juvenile detention facilities on a number of fronts. The independent assessment of our state’s juvenile justice system underway by the American Institutes of Research will provide important scrutiny of these facilities across our state, and provide important groundwork for any comprehensive changes to this system.

We’re hopeful that the YDC and juvenile directors will look carefully at state oversight or other ways to strengthen protections for youth in detention facilities. We look forward to advocates being included in those conversations. We appreciate Governor Brown taking these matters so seriously and making sure that our state treats the detention of youth as an opportunity to improve their lives and position them for lifelong success.”

– Sarah Radcliffe, Managing Attorney, Mental Health Rights Project, Disability Rights Oregon

On February 27, advocates sent a letter to Governor Kate Brown and state legislative leaders asking that the state provide independent oversight of juvenile detention facilities throughout the state.  The groups and individuals cited a need for improved access to healthcare, education and policies to help youth heal from past trauma.

Read the letter. You can read the letter in Spanish here.

The groups recommended the leaders put in place and enforce standards for detention facilities that shield youth from abuse, provide access to healthcare and education, and identify and respond to behavior linked to past traumatic experiences that many youth have endured.

In Oregon, juvenile detention facilities lack meaningful oversight—no state or local agency is charged with enforcing safe, humane, and appropriate conditions for youth confined in jails.

Investigation into Conditions for Youth at NORCOR

The advocates were galvanized by their mutual concern about the findings of a recent Disability Rights Oregon report that revealed alarming conditions for children detained at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR). Many of the problems illuminated in the report were long known to local and regional officials.


The following organizations and individuals signed the letter:

—FACT Oregon
—Partnership for Safety and Justice
—NAMI Oregon
—Opening Doors Project, Portland Community College-Cascade Campus
—Professor Deborah Smith Arthur, Portland State University
—Professor Aliza Kaplan, Criminal Justice Reform Clinic, Lewis & Clark Law School
—Oregon Justice Resource Center
—Coalition of Communities of Color
—ACLU of Oregon
—Youth, Rights &Justice
—Disability Rights Oregon

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