As wildfires raged across Oregon, about 2,600 prisoners were evacuated from four prisons. Prisoners and family members reported conditions during the evacuations as unsafe, unsanitary and alarming; some called them ‘inhumane’. Host Karen James speaks with Oregon attorneys Tara Herivel and Katharine Edwards, who represent prisoners who were evacuated during the wildfires. Their clients recounted the haphazard evacuations as smoke from the fires filled the prisons. Men from Santiam Correctional Institution, Oregon State Correctional Institution and the Mill Creek Correctional Facility were evacuated; all were evacuated from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon’s only women’s prison.
As the Oregon Department of Corrections struggles to contain COVID-19 in the state’s 14 prisons, there is concern that the chaotic evacuations during the wildfires endangered the health of prisoners and that further spread of COVID-19 is inevitable.
Katharine Edwards practices in poverty related issues and civil rights. Tara Herivel is a prisoners’ rights lawyer and practices in habeas corpus, post conviction, and federal and state public defense.
Tara Herivel firstname.lastname@example.org
Katharine Edwards email@example.com