Colette Peters started her new job as director of the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) about a month ago. She was appointed after the previous director, Max Williams, left the job late last year. She is the first woman in state history to hold the position. Peters worked for the agency from 2004 to 2008 in a few different positions. Before she came back to the DOC this year, she served as director of the Oregon Youth Authority, the corrections program for juvenile offenders.
By all accounts, Peters hit the ground running. The reigns were passed to her just as the 2012 legislative session was getting underway. The DOC narrowly escaped deep budget cuts that would have forced the closure of multiple prisons. As if that wasn’t enough to put on her plate, three days after she took the job, an inmate was found dead in his cell at Snake River Correctional Institution. The death was later ruled a homicide. The case may have gotten extra attention because in January, the Statesman Journal reported that 79 prisoners died at DOC facilities in the past two years and that the agency only publicly revealed information about one of those deaths.
Peters says her impetus for getting into corrections twenty years ago was a “desire to push for change.” She emphasizes data and research as a good foundation for any changes that may be coming.
Do you have a connection to the Oregon Department of Corrections? What would you like to ask Colette Peters?