Investigative Report: Kids at NORCOR

Oregon’s child incarceration rate is one of the worst in the country. Not only do we incarcerate far too many youth, we confine them in unlicensed and unregulated detention centers. There is no state or local agency charged with enforcing safe and humane conditions for youth in juvenile detention facilities.

This lack of oversight and accountability has allowed Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) to neglect the basic mental health and social development needs of kids in custody.

Read the report: “Don’t Look Around: A Window into Inhumane Conditions for Youth at NORCOR.

Read the stories of the youth held there: Voices of Kids at NORCOR.

Findings

Youth detained at NORCOR are often isolated from human contact, prevented from reading, writing, or drawing, and subjected to harsh and purposeless rules such as prohibitions against “looking around” or asking what time it is. They are denied access to adequate education and separated from their families and communities for unnecessarily long periods.

  • NORCOR uses frequent, prolonged, and undocumented use of isolation: Most youth reported that they spend between three to six hours per day locked down in their cells. Their out-of-cell time varied greatly depending on staffing levels and which staff were on duty on a given shift.
  • NORCOR severely restricted access to books, journals, photos of family, phone calls, and visitation: At NORCOR, children are allowed to possess one book, in addition to the Bible. No letters, no journals, no drawing, no comic books, no snacks.
  • NORCOR’s disciplinary system denies human contact to youth who are suicidal or experiencing serious mental health concerns: Solitary confinement is especially dangerous when applied against youth who are suicidal. Written NORCOR policy confirms that “Special Program,” (which amounts to solitary confinement) is used as a response to children who are “highly suicidal.” Multiple youth reported to us that they struggle with impulses to harm themselves.
  • NORCOR and the Wasco County School District fails to provide adequate programming and education: Several facility-driven barriers keep students out of the classroom: staffing shortages, a test required as a prerequisite to entering the classroom, and the challenge of providing solitary education to children on discipline.

What you Can Do

Contact your state legislators. Ask them to:

  1. Contact your state legislators. Ask them to regulate and license juvenile detention facilities to ensure:
    • Safe conditions
    • Adequate healthcare and programming
    • Adherence to trauma-informed and evidence-based practices
    • Solitary confinement is not used

Spread the word.

Share our infographic on what you can do with your social network.

Book Drive for Kids at NORCOR

Donate a gently used or new books appropriate for an adolescent. Spanish-language books are encouraged (No hard cover books, please). Or donate art supplies (they must be soft for safety reasons) like crayons, pastels, or paper.

Drop-Off Site:
Disability Rights Office
610 SW Broadway Portland
Suite 200
Portland, Oregon 97205

And we’ll deliver the books and supplies to kids held at NORCOR.

Deadline: January 2

Media

Press Release:

Release-Conditions for youth held at NORCOR (12/05/2017)

Read news coverage of the report:

Jails & Prisons: Youth Held at NORCOR

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