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Oregon DOC - What You Need to Know Information relating to the Oregon Department of Corrections. Q&A for those new to the system should be posted here.

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Old 02-23-2012, 05:08 AM
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Default New to DOC: What you need to know

As I was going through trying to figure the system out, I was making myself a cheat sheet of all the things needed and links I would be referencing. This forum has been very kind in answering all my questions and helping me out. I put together the following "cheat sheet" for other newcomers like myself who may find the entire process overwhelming at first.

I'm looking for feedback on the accuracy of what I've said and whether or not everything that a newcomers needs to know is in it or not. Warning, it's long, but input from those who know far more than I do is very much welcomed.

All information gathered in February, 2012.

Cheat sheet for first timers on the outside: [ed. note: I’d like to thank every person here who has answered my stupid questions, pointed me at links to resources and generally held my hand while I tried to figure the system out. I hope that this helps other people who have no idea where to even begin.]

The official “cheat sheet” may be found on DOC’s website as a .pdf here: http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/OPS/PRISON...al_jan2009.pdf Note that it is a ‘general’ instruction manual, and some of it is somewhat out of date.



How do I know when my loved one is at coffee creek?

[Coffee Creek is where all inmates start out; this is where intake processing is done and where the powers that be decide which institution to place the inmate in. The inmate will be at coffee creek around 4 weeks, possibly up to 6, before they find out where their permanent home is. Initially, they won’t be able to call you, so mail is your friend. They will not be allowed any visitation at all while at Coffee Creek, but will be able to make phone calls.]

Go here: http://docpub.state.or.us/OOS/intro.jsf
Click “I agree”
Type your loved one’s name into the boxes. A table will come up listing all the people with that name. Look at birthdays and click on the SID number until you find who you’re looking for. If you don’t find the person you’re looking for, they have not yet gotten into the system.


How do I write my loved on at coffee creek or anywhere else?

For writing to any DOC inmate, address the envelope to:

John Doe SID 123456789
Coffee Creek Correctional Institution
24499 SW Grahams Ferry Road
PO Box 9000
Wilsonville, OR
97070

Or (after they’ve transferred to another institution):

[Name of recipient] [Recipients SID number (see ‘how do I know when my loved one is at coffee creek?’)]
[Name of Institution they’re housed at]
[Address of Institution as found on the DOC website for that particular institution]

Make sure to put your return address, including your first and last name, on the envelope or it won’t get to the addressee. Don’t put anything on the envelope aside from the address, your return address and postage (no lipstick kisses, glitter, kid’s stickers etc.) You can draw on the envelope using colored pencils or non-toxic markers.

You can have up to 10 pages of letter, as long as the envelope is not more than ¼ inch thick. They do accept big envelopes (like the manila kind). You can also send 10 “photographs”; they define a “photograph” as one sheet – so you can print out 4 or 6 pictures per page and have 10 pages like this (40 – 60 pictures). You can have 10 of EACH inside one envelope (10 pages of letter, plus 10 pages of pictures).

You can include drawings done in colored pencil or non-toxic markers (no crayon), but quite a few people have reported that it seems hit-or-miss as to whether their drawings (or their children's drawings) get rejected or not, even when they follow all the rules. A couple of people have mentioned making a color photocopy of the drawings first, then writing clearly "This is a Photocopy" at the top of the page - this seems to cut down on the number of rejections. Drawings count as one of the "photographs".

Your mail will be returned if it’s overly sexual (especially pictures, even comic/anime pictures) or if the people reading the mail consider it too likely to upset the inmate. They will also return the mail if they believe it is written in code, contains information likely to lead to the commission of another crime, or contains gang-related material (insignia, pictures, etc).

Send mail only through the post office (no FedEx/UPS etc).

If you want more detail, this link takes you to the Oregon Statute on inmate mail. It’s a dry read. http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/...1/291_131.html


Can I send him/her something?

Magazine subscriptions can be sent to the inmate, as can books.

For magazines, give the subscription in the inmate’s name with the inmate’s mailing address, including SID. If you send them a magazine subscription, ask them to send you back the mailing label with the name of the magazine written on it – that way if they get transferred, you can change their mailing address for them fairly easily.

Books must come from a supplier, such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell’s. You can ship books via FedEx and/or UPS. (Some county jails do not allow anything except US Post Office; prisons allow for other common couriers)

Generally speaking, you can not send any other packages to him/her. For emergency medications or other emergency information, contact the prison directly for prior approval before sending anything.

How do I call my loved one?

You may have already dealt with the local jail phone system. The rules (and provider) have probably changed, either way, you have to go through the process all over again.

First, you can’t call your loved one. Your loved one must be the one to call you. When s/he enters Coffee Creek for intake, s/he will need to make up a call list including all the phone numbers of all the people they’d like to call.

The call list needs the following information: the person’s full name, their phone number and the billing address of the phone number/physical address of the person who owns the phone number (the “billing address” requirement may have changed to only “an address”, not certain). ODOC must approve all people on the calling list. Your loved one won’t be able to call you until his/her call list has been approved.

Then s/he will also need to set up a debit card for phone calls. You won’t be able to do either of these things for him/her. He/she can move money from their commissary (“inmate trust”) fund to their phone debit card, but it seems to take much longer than if you put the money in yourself. As soon as the phone debit card is set up, then it gets tricky.

Types of calls made:

Collect calls: these aren’t actually collect, they still charge the inmate a “connection fee” ranging from $2 to $4 to place the call. Then you get charged the collect call fee and they get charged a fee. This is the most expensive way to stay in phone contact. And? Some phone companies don't allow collect calls. Some cell phone carriers do and some don't, some local phone exchanges do and some don't. Collect calls really should be considered a stop-gap measure until your loved one gets the debit card set up.

Better options: no matter which of the two options below you decide to use, it all starts by setting up an account with VAC. You will need to call 1 800 786-8521 the very first time to set the account up. Don’t lose the information they give you because you will need it each time you put funds on the phone debit card.

V-connect calls: V-connect allows you to put money on the person’s phone debit card online, BUT – it only credits the money to one particular outgoing phone number. So if you want to ensure that your loved one only calls you with the money you put in there, this is the way to go. It is significantly less expensive than collect calls, but more expensive than a straight debit call. You can also put money in this account using money order and MoneyGrams.

VAC “Oregon debit” calls: This is the least expensive way to go, but it doesn’t limit who the inmate can call. They will be able to call anyone on their approved call list.

Paying for V-connect or VAC: You can add money to their account by mailing a money order (no checks, no cashier’s checks) to VAC in Texas or by using a MoneyGram (available from machines in some WalMarts and some 7-11’s). There’s a $50 minimum and $300 maximum. There is also a service charge for either paying by money order OR by MoneyGram, the service charge varies by the amount you add to the account. If you're a numbers geek like I am, the percent of your money going to the fee gets lower with the more money you put in the account. MoneyGram deposits have a slightly higher fee than mailed money orders, however, MoneyGram money hits the phone debit card much faster (within 1-3 days, sometimes within hours) than mailing a money order (2-3 weeks).

See here for how to mail money orders: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=433187
(Note: VAC’s website seems woefully deficient in any kind of information that might be useful to people wanting to pay, and at this time, money cannot be deposited online for debit accounts, only for V-connect accounts. Go figure.)

For a comparative list of rates, check here: http://www.vaci.com/rates/Web%20rates%2002172010.pdf Oregon is on Page 19.

How to get around the long distance charges:

If you looked at the rate list above and gagged, don’t cry yet.

There are three ways that can get you around the long distance charges, and they all involve getting a phone number with a local (to your loved one) number. (See this link for local area code/prefixes for various state institutions: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=412943 )

First, if you have a cell phone, you can ask your cell phone company to change your number to a local number (if you want to change your cell number). Your provider may charge you a small fee for changing your number, but it will be a one-time fee.

Second, you can get a very cheap second cell phone with a local number. You will need to talk to the phone company about whether or not they can give you a local number. For instance, Verizon works as a local number near Ontario (Snake River), but Cingular does not. Before you start paying for another cell phone line make certain it’s going to work! Cheap phones can run as little as $10/month on a family plan. Each phone company is different, so the cost will change from person to person depending on which carrier and what plan they have.

Third, if you’re a bit internet savvy, you can set up a local phone number through Google voice that will forward to whatever phone you want it to forward to. Again, do your research to make sure you’re using a local area code/prefix in the number you set up. Many people on the Prison Talk forums are already using this and have reported no problems with it. Google voice is free.



What about visitation?

While a person is in the intake center at Coffee Creek, you will not be allowed to visit. The intake process may take up to 6 weeks. From what I can tell, it usually takes roughly a month, give or take a week.

The first step, which YOU can do, is to get a visitor’s application submitted. The approval process can take up to 2 months, and can be started while your loved one is in Coffee Creek, even though you won’t be able to visit there. See here: http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/OPS/visiti...on_information and click on the “here” in the line that says “Click here for Printable Visiting Form (word document)”

Fill out all the information, and follow the rules at the bottom for how to submit it. You do not need to sign the form. The process, in a nutshell, goes like this: submit application, DoC looks it over and decides whether you’re eligible or not. If it’s approved, it goes to the inmate for his/her signature. So approval is really two steps: 1) DOC has to approve you and 2) The person you want to visit has to approve you as a visitor.

If you’re not approved, you can appeal the ruling, but that’s a bit long for discussion here. See here for more information on the appeals process: http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/OPS/visiti...Appeal_process


How do I visit someone?

First you need to find out what prison they’ve been sent to as their ‘home base.’ See the instructions above for “How do I know if my loved one is at Coffee Creek.” Enter the persons SID if you know it, otherwise, search by name.

Next, unless you live very near to the prison, you’ll need to find out how to drive there and where to stay. This link has very helpful information on all the prisons in Oregon: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=292 Just look for the prison you’re going to and see what’s there. Alternately, you can check here for the “official” listings: http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/OPS/PRISON/index.shtml

Now that you have a place to stay and a way to get there, you need to show up to go visit. Weekdays tend to have the least number of people. They also cost the inmate fewer visitation points. This post explains visitation points and how they work, and also has a lot of useful information: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=423293 If you want to read the full rules, see here: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/...1/291_127.html

Your best bet is to arrive 30 minutes or so prior to the opening time of visitation and get your name on the waiting list. This will speed up the process and give you more time to visit, especially if you’re there on a slow day.

While the state issues rules, each different institution has its own internal rules. You can get more information by clicking on the specific institution here to find the phone number to call with questions: http://www.oregon.gov/DOC/OPS/PRISON/index.shtml


What to do and what not to do:

Parking: don’t leave any valuables in the car. You will need to show an approved form of ID anyway, so make certain you take your wallet with you. (This may be blatantly obvious, but don’t leave children or pets in the car when you go inside). You won’t be able to have your cell phone on or take it into the visitor’s room, so don’t bother bringing it unless you absolutely have to. If you showed up early to get your name on the list, you may find yourself sitting in your car again. Be prepared to do some walking, depending on the institution you’re going to. Most of them, the parking lot is a fair hike from where you will be entering the facility.

Wear clothing that has as little metal on it as you can (ladies, leave the underwires at home). This will help you get through the metal detectors. Take a second set of clothing with you in case the screeners don’t like what you’re wearing. Generally, you want to stay covered up (no tanks tops, spaghetti straps, shorts, short skirts etc.) Do not wear blue jeans, and in some places light blue shirts are prohibited (inmates wear blue jeans and light blue shirts, they don’t want you looking like an inmate). Dress conservatively.

Don’t wear a lot of jewelry or anything that makes you look wealthy. This will not help you get through the metal detectors, and it may cause your loved one problems later on. If you have multiple piercings, you may want to remove as many rings/studs/gauges as you can before entering, unless they’re made of some material other than metal.

You may also want to bring $10 - $15 or so in change with you for the vending machines. Refer to the specific institution for what’s allowed and not allowed. The state rules say that you’re allowed to buy stuff and give it to the inmate out of the vending machines, but I’ve read elsewhere that this is not true.

You can take in paper with you to show the inmate (pictures or drawings), but you can’t leave it behind. You’ll have to take it back out with you when you leave.

State rules say that you can only have 2 people in the visitor’s room at a time; however, some institutions allow more than that. Again, calling the institution in advance is a good idea. Young children don’t count as “visitors” either in the number of people allowed in the visiting room or in the number of visitation points used. Visitors over 65 years old count towards the number of people in the visitor’s room, but do not count towards visitation points.

And finally:

This is a trying time for those on the outside as well as those on the inside. Stress levels can run high; anxiety and agitation can be severe. Breathe deeply, take things one step at a time. You’ll make it.

Last edited by GingerM; 02-23-2012 at 05:45 AM..
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  #2  
Old 02-23-2012, 05:52 PM
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Comment to add: someone else said you CAN set up their phone debit account once you have the person's SID simply by mailing (or, I'd guess, using MoneyGram) VAC a money order as described above. I haven't tried this, so I'm not sure, but I'll be trying it soon.
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:01 AM
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Comment to add: From what I can tell, an inmate is allowed to have up to 40 people on their call list, and 15 people on their visitor's list. They can change who's on the lists once per month.
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:12 PM
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Comment to add: if you don't turn off the voice message service in google voice, your loved one may get in trouble. Please see this post before using google voice: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=590685
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:01 AM
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Comment to add: I completely forgot to include how to fund the "inmate trust" (aka commissary account) for you LO.

Online, you can go to JPay.com, register and pay by credit card

JPay also takes money orders and MoneyGrams, and the information seems well laid out on their website.

I believe (but am not certain) that JPay is the only way to fund their inside accounts; I know you can't send the inmate money directly, and don't believe you can send money to them via the institution either.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerM View Post
Comment to add: I completely forgot to include how to fund the "inmate trust" (aka commissary account) for you LO.

Online, you can go to JPay.com, register and pay by credit card

JPay also takes money orders and MoneyGrams, and the information seems well laid out on their website.

I believe (but am not certain) that JPay is the only way to fund their inside accounts; I know you can't send the inmate money directly, and don't believe you can send money to them via the institution either.
From the DOC website:

Funds may be placed on an inmate's Central Trust account with either a money order or cashier's check. The Department of Corrections cannot accept cash or personal checks.

1. Make the money order/cashier's check payable to: "DOC" with the inmate's name and SID number.

Example:
Payable to: DOC for John Doe, SID #1234567.

You must write the name and mailing address of purchaser, including city, state, and zip code on the money order/cashier's check AND in the return address area of the mailing envelope. PLEASE NOTE: This information must be current and legible or your item will be returned.

-and-

Mail the money order/cashier's check to:

Central Trust, Inmate's Name and SID Number
Oregon Department of Corrections
PO Box 14400
Salem, OR 97309-5077

The money will be put in the inmate's account upon receipt through the mail.

For more info, you can go directly to the DOC website: http://www.doc.state.or.us/DOC/OPS/i...ces_unit.shtml
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:12 PM
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Default VAC debit account

you can send cashiers checks to fund the debit account, which is charged the lowest prices for calls. the check should have the inmate's name and SID# on the check in the reference field. the check is payable to VAC. there are no service charges when using a cashiers check or money order...they just take a little longer to show up on the account. i always include a "letter" with the check that indicates that the check is for depost in the account of my son's name and sid # in the Oregon Department of Corrections.

my credit union doesn't charge for cashier's checks and i've been doing it a lot with success.

if the prison is far away from you, set up a free google voice account, and get a number that is local to the prison. it will forward to your phone. there is an option that has them press 1 and verify who they are....turn that off. you want the call to just come straight to your phone. works like a charm, and local 20 minute calls are only $1.75. there is a posting in prisontalk oregon that has the local prefixes for most of the prisons...i don't remember where it is but you can search for it.

the myvconnect phone account is more expensive and the $7.95 processing charge each time you put money on the account is a pain. also, if your inmate gets out and you have a balance, you have to ask for it in writing and they charge you $5 to give you your money back. plus, for each phone you want the inmate to be able to call, it's a separate account. the advantage of the debit account is the inmate can call any number on their approved list. my calls me, or his mom, or his sister, or the one good friend he has....and it's all coming out of one account...we don't need 4 myvconnect accounts...
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:13 PM
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Default VAC address

oops, forgot to include the address. to send money to fund the VAC debit account, the address is:
VAC
Dept. 2430
P.O. Box 122430
Dallas, TX 75312-2430
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:17 PM
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my experience with both two rivers and powder river was that we could bring in up to $15 in change (quarters are best) and buy stuff from the vending machines to give to the inmate.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:21 PM
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usually on amazon, you can purchase used books, that are fulfilled by amazon. i have an amazon prime membership which means i pay $79 a year, and anything i buy at amazon is shipped 2 day air for free. my son doesn't necessarily want or need to keep all the books he ever reads, so i send him the cheapest good condition used books i can find on amazon, where amazon is the 'fulfillment' organization and they get there quick and he can donate them to the prison and it didn't cost a lot. i've gotten a lot of books for around $4 or so that were a lot more new.
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:07 PM
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This was sent to my mom from my dad:

1. Phone numbers: they can have up to 40, but they can only add 5 per month.

2. They can have up to 15 visitors on their visitor list

3. At Coffee Creek during intake, they get paper and a writing utensil, and 5 envelopes every 30 days - communication from your LO will be limited until they get their phone card set up and funded - my dad expected the money from his trust to his phone card to take 15 days. I have already sent in a money order for it, so I'm hoping he has phone abilities before that.

4. Comcast does not allow for receiving collect calls.
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Old 04-28-2012, 11:43 PM
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Do we really need the PO Box number? Everywhere else that I have seen the address for Coffee Creek it doesn't have that on there. Just wondering.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southmeadow View Post
Do we really need the PO Box number? Everywhere else that I have seen the address for Coffee Creek it doesn't have that on there. Just wondering.
I'm not sure to be honest. My mom addressed things only to the address, but I addressed them using the PO Box and address. The address on their own website doesn't list a PO Box. Both of our letters got to him, so I assume it isn't necessary.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:24 PM
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Just wondering! I added the PO Box just in case
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:06 AM
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Comment to add: As of 5/15/12, ODOC is changing telephone providers from VAC to TelMate. The new rates are supposed to be available on 7/1/12. The entire process for setting up and funding accounts will change. Updates as they occur.

Gin
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Old 06-26-2012, 06:34 AM
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Comment to add: TelMate allows you to deposit funds into an inmate's commissary ("trust") account online with no surcharge.

I hope to rewrite this whole guide as soon as things have settled out and various people have had the chance to chime in on both the phone system, the new commissary account thing, and I will incorporate all the other information from above into one post.
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Old 08-26-2012, 06:42 AM
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Comment to add: TelMate is NOT without charges.

Funds added to the phone account do not have a service charge associated with them.
Funds added to the commissary account have a $4.50 (or so) charge, no matter how much money you add.
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Old 09-03-2012, 12:41 PM
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Hmm...you may want to update your "types of calls" info. Telmate is the phone provider and they are different than VAC. Thank goodness!
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Old 09-13-2012, 05:57 AM
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The update is in progress, but it may be a while before I finish it. Information is still trickling on on TelMate and all of its various issues and I'm still getting more info about other things like books/magazines etc. I'm going to give it a little more time for the TelMate stuff to settle out (now they're looking at possible video visiting in a skype like fashion, waiting to see what happens with that or I'll be perpetually updating)

In the meantime, the new phone provider's website is TelMate.com, and there are plenty of threads in the phones/mail subforum about TelMate. In addition, there are two posts immediately above yours with a tiny bit of information about TelMate. TelMate also has pretty decent telephone customer service, with service reps who actually seem like they want to help rather than sounding like they're just trying to get you off their call as fast as possible.
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  #20  
Old 09-24-2012, 12:30 PM
marchellocmehom marchellocmehom is offline
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Very helpful you be. Thanks!
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GingerM (09-25-2012)
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