Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility is an all-female facility, the only one in the state, in Albany, Oregon. Just last month Richard spent 12+ hours there talking, photographing, and recording the girls of Oak Creek.
Part of the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA), Oak Creek has 75 beds and the average length of stay is 138 days. When asked if girls are easier than boys, Mark Riggins, the director at Oak Creek answers, “God, no.” The facility offers gender specific programming, but understands that regulating girl’s emotions is a chore. There are lots of issues with self-harm here and the staff works to provide safety while maintaining a pro-kid atmosphere.
Check back for Part 2 next week for a further dialogue with Mark Riggins about balancing the reality of working with troubled young women with feedback from outside institutions such as Annie E. Casey Foundation, as well as audio interviews with the girls.