A RESOLUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF OREGON
WHEREAS, Oregon’s prisons continue to use solitary confinement/restrictive housing as a punitive measure has devastating physiological and psychological impacts, with detrimental long term impacts on prisoners and prison staff, and
WHEREAS, the use of solitary confinement/restrictive housing creates additional risks, workload, and stress for prison staff and increases the burden on prison counselors, and
WHEREAS, in December 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Nelson Mandela Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which declare that solitary confinement/restrictive housing that confines prisoners for 23 hours per day in the absence of natural conditions is inhumane and does not make prisons safer or aid in prisoner rehabilitation, and
WHEREAS, current formal and informal practices in Oregon prisons involve strict control and rules enforcement for often minor infractions, resulting in an often “quick and easy” resort to solitary confinement/restrictive housing and a continuing chain of repetitive segregation, both disciplinary and administrative, and
WHEREAS, up to 50% of Oregon’s inmate suffer from some form of behavioral or physical challenges or addictions that are severely exacerbated by solitary confinement/restrictive housing practices, particularly in the absence of adequate therapeutic programs, and
WHEREAS, discriminatory practices particularly impact people of color (24% of the prison population-34% of those in solitary confinement/restrictive housing), 18-25 year-olds (11% of the prison population – 30% of those in solitary confinement/restrictive housing), and women (53% of the total reported behavioral health needs – 84% in solitary confinement/restrictive housing), and
WHEREAS, studies have shown that prison staff suffer both work stress and threat-related anxieties from the reliance on the punitive-driven practices of the current prison system, as well as from inadequate training in practices that provide humane and rights-based treatment of prisoners or access to community-based partnerships, and
WHEREAS, the Oregon Department of Corrections has recently taken promising steps to improve prison conditions and adopt alternate humane practices (e.g. adopting the European restorative model) that employ non-isolating treatments, which have the potential to greatly reduce or eliminate solitary confinement/restrictive housing applications:
THEREFORE, WE, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF OREGON, HEREBY RESOLVE THAT:
Section 1. We urge the Oregon Legislature and the Governor of Oregon to provide additional supplementary funding to enhance training, data tracking, and full implementation of humane prison rules, environments, and treatments that are conducive to both prisoner and staff well–being and safety.
Section 2. We urge adoption of legislation that prohibits or severely restricts all forms and practices of solitary confinement/restrictive housing.
Section 3. We urge the establishment of a commission to address residual trauma among currently and formerly incarcerated persons who have experienced solitary confinement in Oregon.
Section 4. We will forward this resolution to all Democratic Oregon Legislators and to the Governor with the request that it be forwarded to the head of the Oregon Department of Corrections.
Resolution submitted by Peter Nordbye, SCC Delegate, Clackamas County.
ADOPTED by the Democratic Party of Oregon on March 27th, 2022.