Wafting aromas off of barbecued delictables filled the air around Warner Creek
Correctional Facility for an appreciation lunch held for inmate workers in the physical plant.
A late addition to the event, held on the morning of Friday, July 26, was the invitation of visitors to partake in the lunch, as well, allowing significant others, spouses and family to enjoy lunch side-by-side together.
A total of 16 guests representing nine inmates attended the event, according to WCCF Admin. Asst. Rebecca Hargis. The lunch was organized as an appreciative gesture as positive reinforcement, recognizing the efforts of inmates working in the physical plant unit.
Further adding to the casual setting was its location outside the facility’s dining hall, she noted.
General Services Mgr. Dave Hammonds noted that the unit includes multiple specialty shops, such as automotive, plumbing, painting, woodshop and metalworking/welding, in addition to HVAC and general landscaping.
Hammonds noted that inmates are assessed on their individual abilities, skills with certain types of tools and their ability to follow directions in terms of their placement in specific parts of the plant.
Skill levels are varied, as some are licensed from previous careers while others are starting completely from scratch.
Hargis said the big-picture goal of the event last week is the strategy of reducing recidivism.
Grayce Kelly of Klamath Falls normally visits her son, Sean O’Kelly, on at least a monthly basis. When he was previously incarcerated in Baker City at Powder River Correctional Facility, the eight-hour drive made it difficult to plan for visits.
“It’s really nice to be able to see my son,” she said. “It’s a good thing.”
O’Kelly agreed, noting an appreciation for a change of pace in being able to sit next to his mother on the wooden picnic tables that morning.
WCCF officials cited a number of statistics that suggest such events carry a lot of weight in preventing future recidivism. A Minnesota DOC study determined that offenders who were visited in prison saw significantly less likelihood to return to prison.
Visits from siblings, in-laws, fathers and clergy were deemed as the most beneficial, and frequency of visits also contributed to the decrease in recidivism. Oregon’s DOC system statistics indicate that 59 percent of inmates (8,600) don’t receive visits within any given year.