Senator Betsy Close gets hearing for prison worker mandatory reporter bill

Sen. Betsy Close_thb

Senator Betsy Close

Salem, OR – The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 417 last week. Senator Betsy Close (R-Albany/Corvallis) sponsored the bill to make correctional workers mandatory reporters of sexual abuse.

“Abuse of prisoners by other inmates or correctional workers in Oregon prisons is unacceptable,” said Close. “The intent of this bill is to add another layer of accountability and to make it crystal clear that there is zero-tolerance for abuse in our prison system.”

Last year, details came to light of widespread sexual abuse of inmates at Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correction Facility. The state decided to settle with 17 victims in litigation that cost taxpayers over $1.6 million.

The Oregonian Editorial Board called on the Oregon Department of Corrections to take steps to instill a new culture of accountability.

“The articles detailing abuse and predatory behavior at Coffee Creek are deeply disturbing,” said Close. “Bringing these terrible actions to the light is the first step in preventing them. Now we need some strong safeguards to protect prisoners from coercion and to hold offenders responsible for their actions.”

Close plans to work with the Department of Corrections to improve the bill and hopes to pass it out of committee soon.