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Crime, Law & Justice

Oregon DOC Will Not Open Second Women's Prison—For Now

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Oregon’s Department of Corrections has decided not to ask the state for funds to open a new women’s prison. Oregon only has one facility for women, and it’s overcrowded.

Right now Coffee Creek Correctional Facility is about 25 inmates over capacity. The DOC had planned to ask for $5 million from the Legislature’s Emergency Board to open a new minimum security women’s prison, but the department has decided not to go through with the request.

Shannon Wight is with the advocacy group Partnership for Safety and Justice. She says women are often incarcerated for non-violent crimes and more prison beds are not the answer.

Wight: “Prison is a really expensive solution and not an effective one, and so we need to be very considerate before we open a second prison for women, that money could go really far in a lot of other areas.”

Wight says since 2007 the rate of women going to prison has increased 22 percent; for men, it’s up just two percent.

DOC Director Colette Peters hasn’t ruled out opening a second women’s facility if inmate numbers continue to climb.