Evacuations last week from several facilities managed by Oregon Department of Corrections ended up in a protest at one of the facilities that took on extra inmates.

According to a news release on Monday morning, about 200 male inmates at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution at about 10 p.m. Friday “left their housing units to protest emergency conditions put in place.”

The inmates “refused to follow direction and return to their housing units from the yard,” and after 12 remained in the yard at 2 a.m. Saturday, DOC deployed its Crisis Negotiation Team.

According to the news release, no force was used to clear the yard, and the dozen that remained in the yard were either placed in special housing or transferred to another facility.

“No employee or AICs required medical treatment,” reads the release. The protest was a result of inmates at DRCI being moved into the previously unused minimum facility “to accommodate the multi-custody level evacuees from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility,” who needed maximum facility accommodations.

“At this time, the men do not have access to traditional phones because the minimum facility had not been in use since 2016 and phones could not be set up with such short notice. DOC employees had been working to provide the men in the minimum facility with phone calls via employee work phones. DRCI is collaborating with our AIC telephone provider to install ten new AIC phones in this facility,” reads the release.

The inmates who were evacuated from Coffee Creek got moved into the active facility, with access to phones, video calls, and tablets, according to Oregon DOC.

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 CCCF evacuation.

DOC says that staff at DRCI — the largest minimum-custody facility in the state — will continue to communicate with employees during this historic wildfire season.

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