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A Rocky Year At The Oregon Department Of Corrections

Pete Springer/OPB

In early March, the Oregon Department of Justice released a report on improper behavior by officials at the Department of Corrections toward the closely related and quasi-independent Oregon Corrections Enterprises. Correction Enterprises is an agency designed to provide work for DOC inmates, but it receives no state funding. The Department of Corrections appoints the Corrections Enterprises director, but besides that, the two agencies are independent with only a business relationship.

At least that’s the on-paper relationship. The Department of Justice report showed, among other things, that the DOC didn’t pay for furniture built by Correction Enterprises and compelled it to sponsor charities dear to DOC officials. Worst of all, DOC’s deputy director Mitch Morrow influenced the OCE to hire his son, and then pay to move him, and then give him a raise. An internal DOC investigation found no improper action by Morrow.

Shortly after the Department of Justice report, OCE director Rob Killgore was fired. He had brought the allegations of impropriety to the Department of Justice, sparking the investigation. Killgore sued for wrongful termination. Another DOC report, this one described as a routine “change of administrator review,” found the firing acceptable and unrelated to the whistle-blowing. It did discover, however, that Killgore and the Corrections Enterprises advisory council members had entered contracts with conflict of interest potential.

Based on those findings, in mid-July the new head of Corrections Enterprises asked the Secretary of State for an audit of its own contracts, bringing the investigations full circle.

Do you work for either the Department of Corrections or Oregon Corrections Enterprises? What questions do you have about what’s been going at the DOC?


Hannah Hoffman: Reporter, the Statesman Journal

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OPB | Broadcast: July 24, 2013