Saturday May 25, 2013
Chicken Night at the Oregon State PenitentiaryTim King Salem-News.com
"Who I saw up against the wall were all African-Americans" - William Coleman, former Oregon Corrections Officer
(SALEM, Ore.) - This installment in our special series expose on corruption and racism in the Oregon State Prison in Salem has a touch of humor; that is a rare commodity in these parts- but only a touch.
While the racism William Coleman experienced as a prison guard from 2005-2007 was often tied to violence, direct racial harassment, discrimination, mail tampering and smuggling, part of the problem was tied to chicken.
Chicken is served at the prison twice a week. The inmates eat well on these nights, Coleman says, the tray served to the inmates is sometimes piled high with food.
But when the meal is over, an unusual thing takes place. The white inmates are allowed to exit and return to their cells, but the African-American inmates are the subject of a special search, on chicken night.
"I couldn't believe what they told me the first time I was there when they served chicken. They said, 'Officer Coleman, we need you to watch that group over there.' They pointed toward the African-Americans and the Hispanics."
Coleman remembers being shocked, "I was blown away, I said, 'Everybody steals chicken'. I am not saying that these inmates wouldn't steal chicken, but they all do it."
The system allows one thing for sure; it makes it very easy for white inmates to steal chicken while sometimes snickering at the black inmates who are actually lined up against the wall and searched, regularly.
"Black inmates being patted down for chicken." Recalling the first time he saw this, Coleman says there were no whites, and also no Hispanics; only blacks being routinely searched for chicken.
"I talked to BOLI (Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries) about this but they said there was a statute of limitations. It hadn't been reported in time. But even more, they said, 'you know you can't talk on behalf of inmates, the inmates have to come file these charges; these things didn't happen to you.'"
Coleman said, "I made a big deal about it, not just BOLI, I reported it to the institution; they were no help, 'It's how things are around here, stay out of inmates affairs', I remember them saying."
The one other thing Coleman recalls from that first chicken night, was a white supremacist: "He saw the black inmates against the wall, pulled his jacket back and said, 'Coleman look' and I saw pockets full of chicken."
"I don't remember the guy's name, he was a white supremacist but not somebody I ever had a problem with. I laughed, I couldn't believe it. I was blown away. I never saw a white guy go to the hole or even a lockdown for stealing chicken or other food."
__________________________________________________________________Other articles about Oregon's prisons:
Mar-22-2012: Mother's Wish to see Son Exonerated Not Granted Before her Death - Tim King Salem-News.com
Mar-26-2012: Oregon Judge: State 'Stuck their neck out' for Son of DA Who Raped 13-Year Old - Tim King Salem-News.com
Feb-27-2012: Retracted and Redacted- A Comparison of Two Oregon 'Criminals' - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jan-19-2012: Housing Inmates Who Make Death Threats... with their Intended Victims - Tim King Salem-News.com
Dec-19-2011: Does Oregon's Government Simply Hate Black People? - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-27-2011: DNA Evidence Should Free Oregon Inmate Terrence Kimble from Prison
May-04-2011 Is There An Oregon Attorney Who Cares About Civil Rights?Tim King Salem-News.com
May-31-2011: Snitch Sheets, Unresolved Murder and Severe Tobacco Crimes - Tim King Salem-News.com
Mar-10-2011: Reader Commentary: Can Oregon Government Change its Spots? - Salem-News.com
Mar-10-2011: Civil Rights Case in Salem Demonstrates the Power of a 911 Call - Tim King Salem-News.com
Mar-09-2011: Civil Rights Under the Gavel of Justice - Tim King Salem-News.com
Mar-08-2011: Oregon State Hospital and Staff Member Face Racism Charges Over Employee Termination - Tim King Salem-News.com
Mar-04-2011: How Far will Oregon Legal Officials go to Prevent Due Process? - Tim King Salem-News.com
Dec-27-2010: The 'Trickle Down' Effect of Whistleblower Retaliation - Tim King Salem-News.com
Dec-01-2010: Oregon Political Prisoner Being Stripped of Phone Use - Tim King Salem-News.com
Nov-25-2010: Tim King and Ruth Kovacs on KBOO's Prison Pipeline (AUDIO) - Salem-News.com
Nov-22-2010: Tim King on KBOO FM's Prison Pipeline Tonight - Salem-News.com
Nov-16-2010: Federal Mail Tampering at Oregon State Prison? - Tim King Salem-News.com
Oct-29-2010: A Witness With No Credibility - Tim King Salem-News.com
Oct-27-2010: Inmate's Life Threatened by Staff at SRCI - Tim King Salem-News.com
Oct-21-2010: Oregon Inmate Stabbing Victim Attacked Second Time - Tim King Salem-News.com
Sep-10-2010: Demonstrators Call Oregon State Hospital's Employment Practices Racist, Unacceptable - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-28-2010: Observations on Michael Francke's Murder, Frank Gable's Conviction, & the paid Confession of 'Shorty' Harden - Salem-News.com
Aug-25-2010: Whistleblower Blues: Man in the Hole - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-11-2010: Demonstrators Protest Local Newspaper Over Racism - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-05-2010: Evidence Shows Oregon Inmate Was Falsely Convicted - Tim King Salem-News.com
Aug-03-2010: Chicken Night at the Oregon State Penitentiary - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-21-2010: Eyes on the Oregon State Prison: Voicing Concern for an Inmate's Life - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-14-2010: State Prison Whistleblower Says Oregon Corrections is Blocking Federal Mail - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jul-05-2010: A Denial of Civil Rights- Oregon's Collaboration in Racism Whistleblower Retaliation - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-26-2010: Getting Refamiliarized with the Murder of Michael Francke - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-23-2010: Local Media Downplayed Former Prison Guard's Struggle Against Racism - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-18-2010: Exposé: Skeletons Falling Out of the Closet of Oregon Corrections - Tim King Salem-News.com
Jun-17-2010: Scott McAlister: Child Porn-Related Conviction and Practicing Law - Tim King Salem-News.com
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