NORCOR in the news: Two different views

NORCOR programs help inmates

With all the information about NORCOR and its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) it may surprise local residents to find out that NORCOR also contracts with other governing bodies, including Benton County in the Willamette Valley, h0me to Corvallis and Oregon State.

A 2400-word bylined article in the Corvallis Gazette Times Sunday said about 40 prisoners from Benton County were currently lodged at NORCOR, and quoted one inmate, identified only as Eric, saying that he and other inmates prefer to be housed at NORCOR, rather than the Benton County Jail, because NORCOR offered programs not available in Benton County, such as a substance abuse class. That’s one of several programs introduced by jail administrator Bryan Brandenburg, who has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is a licensed professional counselor.

The article notes he created and instituted the programs he now uses at NORCOR while working in Alaska, where he said that the recidivism rate declined by 15 percent among Alaskan inmates who completed the treatment. Since he arrived in 2015 and instituted the programs, recidivism rate has dropped from 76 percent to 66 percent. To read the whole article, click on the link below:

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NORCOR hunger strike ends

The following is a press release from the Gorge ICE Resistance Coalition:

The Dalles, OR – Immigrants and refugees detained at the Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facility (NORCOR), a rural jail in The Dalles, have paused their 4-day hunger strike after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and NORCOR officials negotiated an agreement. Hunger strikers were promised milk five times a week, two hot meals on weekends, the opportunity to buy shoes and to be seen regularly by doctors. Several hunger strikers will be be taken to the Northwest Detention Center, a private regional ICE facility located in Tacoma, where strikers will be able to access their legal support and have in-person visits with family, the latter of which are not allowed at NORCOR.

While strikers have paused their hunger strike, they are committed to starting again if they do not see improvements.“We have agreed to pause for now, we are giving the NORCOR authorities and ICE officials that spoke to us a chance,” shared one hunger striker. “But if the agreements are not upheld, we will resume our peaceful action to demand humane treatment and conditions as well as access to justice while we are facing a possible deportation. We thank everyone outside that supports us; we can’t win without their support.”

On Sunday, November 5th from 1-3PM, supporters from across the state will join Gorge ICE Resistance for a rally to demand that NORCOR and ICE honor their commitments to the hunger strikers, and an end to NORCOR’s contract with ICE. Community members from across the Columbia River Gorge will continue to hold daily rallies weekdays from 5-6pm and weekends from 11am-12pm.

“We are relieved that the hunger strikers are eating again, but sorely disappointed it took four days without food to get NORCOR to provide basic items like milk, decent shoes and doctor visits,” says Rosie Schneider of Gorge ICE Resistance. “Twice in six months immigrants and refugees detained at NORCOR have been forced to go on hunger strike to have basic needs met. The Dalles is a tight knit community of people who take care of each other, and I question whether NORCOR shares our values and uses our tax dollars appropriately.”

Immigrants and refugees detained by ICE at NORCOR began their hunger strike on Wednesday, November 1, calling for NORCOR to end its relationship with ICE and to end the inhumane conditions people are being held in, including lack of access to nutritious meals, wait times of up to two weeks for medical treatment, no visits with family, a lack of recreation, an inadequate law library and expensive phone calls and commissary items, which include hygiene products and food to supplement the unhealthy meals they are provided.

Hunger strikers suffered retaliation from ICE and NORCOR for taking peaceful action, including being isolated into a single dormitory, threats of being treated worse including transfers to detention centers further away from family and legal resources, denied opportunities to work, and singled out by officers in an attempt to identify leaders. This is the second time this year that immigrant and refugees detained by ICE at NORCOR have gone on hunger strike.

NORCOR has been facing increased scrutiny for their contract with ICE. Since 2014, in addition to housing local inmates, NORCOR has been housing people the federal government wants detained for immigration purposes, even though Oregon law expressly prohibits using state or local public funds for federal immigration enforcement. A lawsuit filed in July by several area taxpayers challenges the use of NORCOR, a publicly funded jail, to enforce federal immigration policies.