To learn more about The Portia Project contact Barbara Aldave

Why are we locking up so many women?

From The Red Lodge Legal Services Program

In recent years, the rate of women incarcerated in the U.S. has far outpaced the rate of men. The U.S. incarcerates more women than any other country in the world. This 2-minute video by Brave New Films, highlighted in the online article “America’s Prisons Are Designed for Men, and Women Suffer Because of It,” explains driving forces behind these rates and points out the detrimental impact on families and future generations.

Read More.

Katina Saint Marie Wins An Important Ruling
In The Oregon Court Of Appeals!

On behalf of one of her clients at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, the General Counsel of The Portia Project recently secured a resounding victory that upholds the right of an incarcerated mother to enjoy parenting time with her minor children as long as the children's visits with her do not endanger their health or safety.

A trial judge had ruled that Melanie Stewart, "who will be incarcerated for the next 14 years," should be denied visits from her children solely because she is serving a lengthy sentence for a serious crime. The Court of Appeals, however, reaffirmed that "a parent's incarceration does not invariably require that visitation should be denied." On the contrary, "[e]ach case must be decided on its own merits and not on the basis of a policy not to allow children to visit their parents at the penitentiary." The full opinion can be found at the following link: In the Matter of Daniel E. Stewart and Melanie L. Stewart.

A Happy Ending

On Thursday, September 9, 2013, Ms. Stewart’s case was retried in Washington County Circuit Court, and she was awarded the right to have visits from her children.

Read All About It!

On Dec. 17, 2012, Governor Kitzhaber's Commission On Public Safety published its long-awaited report. The foreword to the report includes the following:

In the past decade, Oregon's prison population has grown by nearly 50 percent to over 14,000 inmates and taxpayers now spend more than $1.3 billion each biennium to pay for corrections. Meanwhile, Oregon has cut funding to critical public safety areas like state police, county sheriffs, community corrections, and victim services. . . Without action, prisons will consume an even greater share of Oregon's public safety budget and overall state spending. . . This prison growth -- fueled mostly by nonviolent offenders -- will cost taxpayers an additional $600 million dollars.

Click Here to read the entire report.


Willamette Week

Jail Birds The fastest-growing group of inmates in Oregon: Women. A look inside Coffee Creek.


The archetypal prisoner of the last century wore stripes and carried a ball and chain. In the early part of the 21st century, he wore an orange jumpsuit.

The typical 2012 inmate may instead look like Dawn Pearson.

Pearson is a 42-year-old mother of four who is serving more than two years at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility for spending $342 with a stolen credit card at Walmart, Shell, Tobaccoville USA, Ross Dress for Less, Fred Meyer, Dollar Tree and Dairy Queen. Read entire article.

Oregonians Support Public Safety Reform Kitzhaber Calls on Commission to Bring Changes to 2013 Legislature

Number of Older Inmates Grows, Stressing Prisons More Americans older than 55 are being imprisoned, and many prisons are unprepared to provide them with health care, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.

Oregon Health Authority: Public Health Challenges of Incarceration

Further Resources

Family and Corrections Network The mission of the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated (NRCCFI) at Family and Corrections Network (FCN) is to raise awareness about the needs and concerns of the children of the incarcerated and their families by providing information that is informed by a combination of academic research and the experiences of the families and practitioners in the field in order to promote the creation of effective and relevant policies and practices in public and private systems.

Centerforce The Centerforce mission is to support, educate, and advocate for individuals, families, and communities impacted by incarceration.

Lane County Commission on Children and Families The Lane County Department of Children and Families (DCF) protects, supports, and nurtures health and safety in all children and families by connecting, energizing, and mobilizing the community.

Relief Nursery, Inc. The Relief Nursery is a non-profit child abuse and neglect prevention agency proven to strengthen high-risk families and keep young children safe. Nationally recognized, the Relief Nursery stops the cycle of child abuse and neglect with its blend of therapeutic early childhood services and comprehensive family support, including alcohol & drug recovery support services.

Girl Scouts Beyond Bars Program The Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) Initiative was established in 1992 in partnership with the National Institute of Justice. The goals of GSBB are to lessen the impact of parental separation due to incarceration, to foster the personal and social development of girls and their mothers, and to provide girls with the opportunity to participate with their parents in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

Oregon CURE Oregon CURE's mission is to support the incarcerated, their families and friends by advocating for effective criminal justice policies and practices.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights for individualized and proportionate sentencing laws that allow the courts to fit the punishment to the offender. FAMM advocates for state and federal sentencing reform, and mobilizes thousands of individuals and families whose lives are adversely affected by unjust sentences to work constructively for change.

Coffee Creek Correctional Facility

Oregon Department of Corrections


All alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated by Nell Bernstein, 2005

Doing Time on the Outside: Incarceration and Family Life in Urban America by Donald Braman

Laughing in the Dark: From Colored Girl to Woman of Color--A Journey From Prison to Power by Patrice Gaines

Why punish the children?: A reappraisal of the children of incarcerated mothers in America by Barbara Bloom and David Steinhart

Mothering from the Inside: Parenting in a Women’s Prison by Sandra Enos

When a Parent Goes to Jail: A Comprehensive Guide for Counseling Children of Incarcerated Parents by Rebecca M. Yaffe

Family Arrested: How to Survive the Incarceration of a Loved One by Ann Edenfield

Children’s Books:

A Visit to the Big House by Oliver Butterworth

Mama Loves Me from Away by Pat Brisson

My Mother and I Are Growing Stronger by Inez Maury

When Andy’s Father Went to Prison by Martha Whitmore Hickman

The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson