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More than 1,300 Coffee Creek inmates return, week after evacuation to Deer Ridge

Coffee Creek Correctional Facility
KPTV file

WILSONVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) More than 1,300 inmates who were evacuated last week from the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville due to a wildfire threat have returned from the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution east of Madras, the Oregon Department of Corrections said Friday.

The "adults in custody" (AICs) were evacuated on Sept. 10 due to threats from the the Riverside and Santiam wildfires. At that time, the institution was determined to be in potential danger, as the two fires threatened to merge.

DOC said in a news release Friday it worked with the Oregon State Police and the state fire marshal to keep everyone who works and lives in this facility safe.

The total number of AICs evacuated from CCCF was 1,303, including AICs from the Coffee Creek Intake Center.

The return trip spanned across four days so the department could rely on internal resources, including a fleet of buses, the majority of which included restrooms.

Meals, water, and hygiene items were sent with each AIC, and a supply truck returned CCCF supplies that were taken to DRCI during the evacuation.

In addition, an ADA-accessible portable restroom was dropped partway along the route, and portable restrooms were made available at CCCF to mitigate any delay in processing AICs into the institution.

Once DRCI’s medium-security facility was vacated, AICs being temporarily housed in the minimum facility returned to the medium-security facility — a move which was also completed on Friday. That was one week after about 200 of the moved inmates staged a walkout and refused to return to the the medium facility, which sat unused for four years and they said was unsafe.

"DOC is aware of the impact the decision to evacuate may have had on the spread of COVID-19 within its facilities and took precautions to mitigate the impact whenever possible," the agency said after reports arose that two of the evacuated inmates tested positive for the virus

"While social distancing is always challenging in a prison environment —and made even more difficult in the midst of wildfire evacuations — masks continue to be provided and encouraged among all AICs and employees," the department said.

"In addition, DOC Health Services works closely with DOC transport and institutions to ensure AIC health needs are met during this difficult time. "  

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