Oregon prisons to release more inmates as COVID-19 outbreaks continue

By Conrad Wilson (OPB)
Dec. 15, 2020 7:25 p.m.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is set to commute the sentences of approximately 130 Oregon prison inmates this week. Some are at high risk for COVID-19 while others are being released to create more space in the state’s prisons. The inmates are expected to be released from prisons Thursday.

At the beginning of the month, Brown said inmates with six months left on their sentences and who meet certain criteria are eligible for having their sentences commuted. Previously, only inmates with two months left on their sentences were eligible.


State officials could not immediately confirm an exact figure on the latest round of releases Monday night.


The goal of the releases is to lower COVID-19 risk by having fewer people in custody, where social distancing is extremely challenging. To receive early release, people can’t be serving a sentence for a person crime, must have suitable housing upon their release, and must have a record of good conduct for 12 months.

In June, the governor commuted the sentences of 57 inmates for similar reasons.

Oregon’s prisons system has struggled with COVID-19. At times, it has had some of largest outbreaks in the state.

Currently, the prison system is dealing with significant outbreaks at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras as well as Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland.

To date, more than 1,500 prison inmates have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and 19 have died.


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