Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility is an all-female facility in Albany, Oregon. The only one in the state. Last month Richard Ross spent 12+ hours talking, photographing, and recording the people who live and work at Oak Creek. The following post focuses on two perspectives from both sides: K.Q, a young woman incarcerated at Oak Creek and Mike Riggan, the superintendent of Oak Creek…[See all blog posts on Oak Creek HERE][superquote]”I took the deal because I didn’t have many options. I was 15 and they were trying for a death penalty. This was my first time getting locked up with the law.”[/superquote]
“I’m from Salem. I’ve been here for 4 years. I’ve been locked up for 5 years. I’ve got 15 more years to go. My sentence is 20 years and 7 months. I’m here for 3 counts of Measure 11. Manslaughter, robbery, unauthorized use of weapon against another. It was dropped down from two counts of aggravated murder. I was 15. I was doing meth since I was 7. My mom gave it to me…but it doesn’t really matter now. My dad is a S.O. (sex offender). He never did anything to us but he can’t visit. He’s been in and out of jail. I’m not really mean, I’m DOC (department of corrections). I wanna go upstate. I got my diploma, so I have nothing to do here. I’m here because of my age, and because I’m 36 when I get out – they capped it at that because the guy I killed was 36, or maybe I just made that up in my head. I wouldn’t give my kid meth. I took the deal because I didn’t have many options. I was 15 and they were trying for a death penalty. This was my first time getting locked up with the law. I wanted to go back to school but my mom wouldn’t let me. I was finally in DHS custody. They put me in a foster care family where my foster mother saw I had lice in my hair so she sprayed us all with Raid, so they took us out of foster care and put us back with our mom. My mom kept saying things would be different and, why would you wanna be at foster care? I left between 10 and 13 foster homes. I have 13 brothers and sisters.”
– K.Q age 19, inmate, Oak Creek.[superquote]”How do you balance the tragedy of a loss of life and the justice (and mercy) that should be afforded a 15-year-kid engaging in the behavior?”[/superquote]
“I think with K.Q, I don’t know the details if her mother’s behavior was ever reported. I do know that K.Q. received excellent counsel from her lawyer as the plea deal she received was quite a reduction from her original charge. I am saddened a great deal by K.Q or any youth that has taken life. These kids are in a moment of time making such a life altering and ending (for their victims) decision and live with such a mountain of regret. I don’t know what the answer is. How do they make amends to their victims and how do you balance the tragedy of a loss of life and the justice (and mercy) that should be afforded a 15-year-kid engaging in the behavior?”
– Mike Riggan, Superintendent, Oak Creek.