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Oregon prison official placed on leave following wildfire evacuations

A high ranking prison official at the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras has been placed on leave, the Department of Corrections confirmed Monday.

Assistant Superintendent of Security Jason Jorgensen is currently on “duty stationed at home” with pay amid a personnel investigation, a DOC spokeswoman said.

The circumstances surrounding the investigation date back to early last month, when Oregon evacuated four prisons and thousands of inmates amid historic wildfires that ravaged the state.

On Sept. 10, men in the medium security portion of the Deer Ridge prison were moved to the minimum security section of the prison to make room for more than 1,000 inmates, mostly women, from Coffee Creek Correctional Institution as they evacuated from the Santiam and Riverside fires.

The men at Deer Ridge protested the move. On Sept. 11, some 200 inmates refused to move from the yard to their new cells in the minimum security portion of the prison, DOC said in a release at the time.

Corrections officials said it deployed its crisis negotiating team. No force was used and no one was injured, DOC said. But 12 inmates who refused to leave the yard were “placed in special housing and transferred to another institution,” DOC said in its release.

“The protesting [inmates] demanded changes to emergency operations, citing the poor air quality from wildfires, temporary lack of access to phones, and other disruptions caused by the CCCF evacuation," the DOC release from last month stated. "An ongoing investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the incident.”

Corrections officials said they could not share specific details about Jorgensen’s case, citing the ongoing investigation.

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