About 30 people came to the hearing held by the Department of Corrections regarding proposed changes to policies governing inmates. Policy development officials say the revisions are meant to streamline disciplinary procedures and add new ones.
Everyone who spoke… spoke against the changes that include increasing monetary sanctions and solitary confinement as well as prohibiting inmates from sending money to anyone outside of immediate family. “Solitary confinement is known across the country to have detrimental affects on mental health. Any policy that increases the amount of solitary confinement for any prisoner is bound to have bad affects for the community as a whole,” said Jan Collins.
The President of the Portland Chapter of the NAACP read letters from prisoners.”I am already in debt from past fines due to monetary disciplinary sanctions. If the fines increase, I will never be able to get out of debt,” said Rachel Ross.
Communicating with the media and having pen pals would also be banned under the policy. Some say the proposed rules aren’t only wrong, but they are unconstitutional. Former inmates say the proposed changes don’t consider the interests of inmates or the community, but the DOC. Adding they should be more concerned about the dangers posed to the community by inmates who have been released and have not been allowed contact with the outside world. The DOC is accepting written comments over the next two weeks. “What happens in prison affects all of us and we should all care,” said Jan Collins.