Voices of kids at NORCOR

The names of the kids who were interviewed as part of our investigation were changed to protect their identities. 

Eli’s Story

A boy said that he was disciplined for having an additional book in his cell. “I love to read,” he explained.

A boy with a history of self-harm was disciplined for 69 consecutive days for talking and “being needy.”

The boy said that he was disciplined for having an additional book in his cell. “I love to read,” he explained.

He remained in disciplinary status for behavior like being “needy,” “passive aggressive,” “tattling,” “attention seeking,” “talking,” “feet on stool,” telling other youth what the rules are, having his “hands above [his] waist,” and “looking around.”

Young person lying in empty cell except for mattress. Their back is to the wall.

Brandy’s Story

One young girl at NORCOR for a probation violation made a serious suicide attempt during her five-month stay. She reported that she had been on disciplinary status for multiple weeks. She was unable to get off of disciplinary status because she fell asleep (after hours alone in her room with no entertainment other than the Bible), used a clean piece of tissue as a bookmark, and left an orange seed on her floor.

One young girl at NORCOR for a probation violation made a serious suicide attempt during her five-month stay.

Most of the time, NORCOR staff noted that she was “respectful,” “polite,” and “helpful,” or doing “excellent work” in school. She was also consistently demoted for things like, being “needy,” “doing the minimum,” “doing just okay,” flirting, “hands above waist,” not saying excuse me, or for no documented reason at all.

Her home situation was not viable. She waited at NORCOR for a bed to open up at a residential treatment setting. She was placed in a treatment facility many hours from her rural community. When she ran away, she was returned to NORCOR.

Disability Rights Oregon could not confirm the number of days that she spent on disciplinary status due to lack of documentation.

Empty NORCOR youth cell except for mattress.

James’s Story: 

“James” reported that he started using drugs as a young child – 8 or 9 years old – and that he experienced abuse at home. He said that a lot of the kids at NORCOR don’t trust adults because they’ve been abused, and they’d rather talk to their peers. “James” was denied privileges almost every shift due to talking. He explained, “people need someone to talk to really bad.”

“If you tell staff [about thoughts of self-harm],” he said, “they won’t talk you down; they’ll just put you in ‘obs’ [observation cell], alone.”

He reported a serious suicide attempt prior to admission at NORCOR, and a history of head-banging while at NORCOR. He also described NORCOR staff’s response to kids who disclose thoughts of self-harm. “If you tell staff,” he said, “they won’t talk you down; they’ll just put you in ‘obs’ [observation cell], alone.”

Youth standing by pad on floor of empty cell.

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