Oregon’s Department of Corrections knows it needs to do more to help the families of prisoners be able to visit their loved ones. According to DOC director Colette Peters, that’s not just because it’s the compassionate thing to do. Visitation is actually one of the most effective ways to ensure that offenders don’t re-offend when they’re released from prison. Although a Pew study on recidivism last year put Oregon at the top of national heap when it comes to keeping offenders from reentering the corrections system, she says Oregon officials cannot rest on their laurels.
Peters says visitation, along with education, helps reinforce a sense of identity and belonging that is not related to offending or being a convict. The challenge is that two-thirds of Oregon’s inmates are housed east of the Cascades, often far from where friends and family live.
Do you have a relative in prison? How often did you visit him or her? Did you notice a change in their outlook?