Leading the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) since February 2012, Director Colette S. Peters, has ultimate oversight of an agency with 4,700 employees; a biennial budget of $2 billion; and responsibility for managing 14,700 incarcerated adults in 14 prisons across the state. Director Peters, who is a national advocate for wellness in public safety, active with many national corrections and public safety organizations, discusses Oregon’s justice reinvestment effort, which reduced the prison population and avoided opening additional institutions, their more humanitarian approach to correctional practice known as the Oregon Way, and their very significant investment in staff wellness and resilience. How they responded to six staff suicides in an 18 month period by engaging university research partners to study their staff wellness, their discovery that, despite being widely recognized as a progressive correctional system, one-in-three of their employees had symptoms of PTSD and over 90% were dealing with significant weight issues or obesity and hypertension. How they made employee wellness their #1 priority, bringing in a mindfulness-based wellness and resiliency training program and making a long-term commitment to staff wellness. Their ongoing exploration of the Norway model and the development of the Oregon Way correctional philosophy.
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