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Aug-03-2010 23:54printcomments

Chicken Night at the Oregon State Penitentiary

"Who I saw up against the wall were all African-Americans" - William Coleman, former Oregon Corrections Officer

Courtesy: Aaron Quinn

(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
Mar-26-2012: Oregon Judge: State 'Stuck their neck out' for Son of DA Who Raped 13-Year Old - Tim King
Feb-27-2012: Retracted and Redacted- A Comparison of Two Oregon 'Criminals' - Tim King
Jan-19-2012: Housing Inmates Who Make Death Threats... with their Intended Victims - Tim King
Dec-19-2011: Does Oregon's Government Simply Hate Black People? - Tim King
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
May-31-2011: Snitch Sheets, Unresolved Murder and Severe Tobacco Crimes - Tim King
Mar-10-2011: Reader Commentary: Can Oregon Government Change its Spots? -
Mar-10-2011: Civil Rights Case in Salem Demonstrates the Power of a 911 Call - Tim King
Mar-09-2011: Civil Rights Under the Gavel of Justice - Tim King
Mar-08-2011: Oregon State Hospital and Staff Member Face Racism Charges Over Employee Termination - Tim King
Mar-04-2011: How Far will Oregon Legal Officials go to Prevent Due Process? - Tim King
Dec-27-2010: The 'Trickle Down' Effect of Whistleblower Retaliation - Tim King
Dec-01-2010: Oregon Political Prisoner Being Stripped of Phone Use - Tim King
Nov-25-2010: Tim King and Ruth Kovacs on KBOO's Prison Pipeline (AUDIO) -
Nov-22-2010: Tim King on KBOO FM's Prison Pipeline Tonight -
Nov-16-2010: Federal Mail Tampering at Oregon State Prison? - Tim King
Oct-29-2010: A Witness With No Credibility - Tim King
Oct-27-2010: Inmate's Life Threatened by Staff at SRCI - Tim King
Oct-21-2010: Oregon Inmate Stabbing Victim Attacked Second Time - Tim King
Sep-10-2010: Demonstrators Call Oregon State Hospital's Employment Practices Racist, Unacceptable - Tim King
Aug-28-2010: Observations on Michael Francke's Murder, Frank Gable's Conviction, & the paid Confession of 'Shorty' Harden -
Aug-25-2010: Whistleblower Blues: Man in the Hole - Tim King
Aug-11-2010: Demonstrators Protest Local Newspaper Over Racism - Tim King
Aug-05-2010: Evidence Shows Oregon Inmate Was Falsely Convicted - Tim King
Aug-03-2010: Chicken Night at the Oregon State Penitentiary - Tim King
Jul-21-2010: Eyes on the Oregon State Prison: Voicing Concern for an Inmate's Life - Tim King
Jul-14-2010: State Prison Whistleblower Says Oregon Corrections is Blocking Federal Mail - Tim King
Jul-05-2010: A Denial of Civil Rights- Oregon's Collaboration in Racism Whistleblower Retaliation - Tim King
Jun-26-2010: Getting Refamiliarized with the Murder of Michael Francke - Tim King
Jun-23-2010: Local Media Downplayed Former Prison Guard's Struggle Against Racism - Tim King
Jun-18-2010: Exposé: Skeletons Falling Out of the Closet of Oregon Corrections - Tim King
Jun-17-2010: Scott McAlister: Child Porn-Related Conviction and Practicing Law - Tim King


Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 102 writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: Visit Tim's Facebook page (

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Stephen April 30, 2012 11:18 am (Pacific time)

Thanks Tim for the information. I believe you are on the right track, I just have not researched this subject, but it does interest me. I will try and spend a bit of time learning myself, and hope I can add info from my posts. Dont stop with this, because I think you are on the right track and I want to learn more. Readers digest version: you are exposing white supremacy in Oregon and possible bigger agendas. Keep up the good work.

stephen April 30, 2012 9:35 am (Pacific time)

First of all, I wish people would quit messing with Tim. I have been reading his work for quite some time, and even tho I dont always agree 100%, he has a good, true, honest heart, and works hard to get the truth. There may be other editors here that I cant say that about, but Tim is ok. He works hard, gives some great info, and is willing to admit mistakes etc.
Ok, to the article. This is weird to me Tim. Are you telling me that there is a major discrimination in the prisons against blacks? If so, then why? Why are they doing this? I am cool with you, but how many blacks are in these jails/prisons? I would think the ratio of blacks is small in regards to hispanics. You have opened pandoras box and have my interest. As mentioned, I worked many years ago for the plight the blacks face. I guess my layman terms of wondering, comes down to one thing. Why do the people working in the prison system have a racist attitude over the blacks? Just so you know, about 30 years ago, when I was about 20 or so, I did 37 days in Los Angeles County jail, so I have some experience. And guess what, I know many say "I didnt do it", but the fact is, I was jailed for something I did not do. But I made it thru ok.
I did not see racism, I saw prison guards only focusing on the trouble makers, whether white/hispanic/black.
This is 30 years ago, I think things change, but I am interested in your work in the prison system. My dad was a missionary to American Indians. I visited many prisons with him. When I was 18, I played with our church basketball team, against the American Indian basketball team at Lompoc prison in southern California. Sorry about the novel here, but my main question is: why are the prison guards/whatever, racist against blacks?

Tim King: Stephen, if there is one operative word here it is 'redneck'.  Sorry you had to go to LA County, I fortunately never had that experience though many of my friends did and they were all tough stories.  I was in Orange County and that is a little better, but no, in California you won't find this at all, not in the actual main counties.  You can go to Bakersfield and find similar thing however. 

Anyway, there is just a spirit of blatant racism.  Of course prisons break into sets and gangs but I don't beleive the problem is as much with the inmates as it is with the staff.  They are related, the white gang aspect I am told, by people who know, involves guard and inmates.  The inmates though get little for their involvement in the criminal aspect; for example, they get to watch movies about Naziism (really) - that is one of  the payoffs the white racist inmates receive, but the financial gains all go with the staff. 

Like other criminals, whether they wear badges or not, they are stupid.  They aren't very careful, but they don't really have to be here and that is the bitch of all.  Oregon has this all so sewn up that  about the only thing you'll hear will come from us, the mainstream media is not interested in fighting injustice, at least not the type.  I should say, they have not enough interest, KBOO in Portland is an excellent radio source for those who care.  I can ramble on, much to say about this.  Why is there racism...

Why is eastern Oregon racist? 

Why are so many people in Dallas and Polk County racist? 

Why was the KKK so big in Silverton? 

Why did Dallas fly the Confederate flag during the Civil War when Salem was solidly behind the Union? 

Part of this may be that a lot of people from the south have moved to Oregon over the years, bringing that culture along with them.  There is a logging connection between the regions.  

The book on this story will explore much of this, that with luck, will happen sometime in 2013, thanks for the supportive comments I'm glad to have a chance to expand.

Leslie Baird April 26, 2012 5:17 pm (Pacific time)

It is outrageous to learn about the story of conviction of an innocent man being convicted when there is no evidence that he sexually abused a young girl. There appears to be some sick leaders in the courts and justice system in American

Editor: Always glad to know another person understands, there are many relevant articles, the 'corruption' tag will lead you to the most recent.

uncle cracker August 11, 2010 3:44 pm (Pacific time)

Good thing they haven't figured out how to swipe purple drank yet.

Editor: What kind of silly nonsense is this?  Thanks for showing the spirit I mention in the article; welcome to Oregon's prison system. 

John August 4, 2010 12:34 am (Pacific time)

Tim, I don't know that racism in prison is a primary or secondary effect of being locked up, but after knowing a few from both sides, it seems to be mostly about self-protection whatever your background. I would love to hear more about the Franke affair though, if you have any insight. Thanks for the best news I've read in years, John

Joe Brady August 4, 2010 8:41 pm (Pacific time)

Have you guys done anything to verify Coleman's accounts of his time at OSP? If you just knew on a small scale how the dining facility operated you would know his story is fabricated in so many ways. And that's just a part of the daily operations of the facility. Contact the place and take a tour and see what is going on for yourself. As a news organization you would be more than welcome I'm sure. Tours occur almost every day and I bet the phone number is in the phone book or online so that you could make arrangements. Thanks.

Tim King: Joe, I have and after many years of research with many things on the line along the way, I have never seen a story hold water as well as William's.  I know you are trying to think of ways to discredit him, but in the end if all of the officers and staff were like William Coleman, we wouldn't be talking about this.  Instead they are like you, desperately trying to find ways to keep the pressure on, but without the tools.  I wonder Joe, if you remember the series I did on the prisons and outside work crews back in '03 or so?  I worked with Perron Damon and Mr. Thompson gave me permission to come out to Santiam and spend time in the dorms, out on the yard, at the weights; etc.  My goal was to show how the prison work crews saved taxpayer revenue in Salem.  Pretty good goal don't you think?   Well, about a week into shooting and researching the series, Perron called and told me she, "knew what I was really doing" and I asked what she meant.  She didn't come outright and say it, but somebody had convinced her that I must have an ulterior motive.  Well, I didn't, just the same way today that I only have good motives and try to help people through our stories.  Anyway, the piece ran on KATU where I worked and it was a nice series on the fact that the crews have a good working relationship with the community.  Now I am looking at the other side of things, and I am not deceitful about it.  Everything we know is published.  You say Coleman was bad when there was never a shred of proof of anything illegal or even immoral on his part.  His position in life is to see the end of corruption in Oregon's prisons and along the way, we are happy to give a voice to inmates who are WRONGLY CONVICTED and also, of course, to bring about a real end to the Michael Francke Murder and the wrongful conviction of Frank Gable.  The word now is that some higher up at DOC wants to talk to us.  Seems he has some keen information on that historical case.  We are in contact with an agency that is ready to move when the time is right.  You could say that Oregon is more or less being 'outed' and that little round on Dateline the other night caught the attention of some new eyes.  Mr. Kroger should be doing something very different with all of this.     

Douglas Benson August 4, 2010 5:05 am (Pacific time)

If he had worked at snake river ,two rivers ect he would have seen plenty of whites getting DRs for stealing food from the chow hall . Even when you work in the kitchen they give you zero extra food and if you dont sneak it you dont eat it .

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