portland independent media center  
images audio video
promoted newswire article reporting portland metro

prisons & prisoners

Correctional Officer Threatens Prisoner Organizer

At Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, guards routinely harass and disrespect prisoners. In this instance, prisoner organizer Barrilee Bannister has been singled out for harassment after receiving mental health counseling for being sexually assaulted.
On July 1, 2003, I had a Mental Health callout with counselor Pat Chance at 10 am.

During this callout, Officer R. Davis was in an adjoining room.

At 11 am, I went back to my unit. Officer R. Davis was on the unit. She said to me, "You better get to your cell before I hurt you."

I responded, "Please don't make comments like that to me. I've been physically and sexually assaulted by correctional officials and I take comments like that as threats to my safety, security and well-being." Officer R. Davis simply laughed and I continued walking to my cell.

At approximately 12:40 pm that same day, Officer Davis asked me, "Who's trying to poison you Bannister?"

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"I overheard you talking [with the counselor] and I don't want to hear that kind of talk or I'll roll you up and toss your butt in segregation and make sure you're buried back there," Davis replied.

I responded, "Whatever you heard me talking about with Mental Health Counselor Pat Chance is confidential medial information. You have no business to eavesdrop in on it and you have no business making comments about it."

I then reported what took place to Officer Horn. He then reported it to Corporal Deanda, who reported it to Captain Yoder. I was told that Officer R. DAvis would be spoken to and that such inappropriate behavior from her would stop.

On July 7, 2003, Officer R. DAvis came on at 7 am. Within the first 15 minutes of her shift, she threatened to grab me by my scrawny neck and hurt me. I asked her, "Why do you keep making threatening and intimidating remarks to me? If you continue to do so, I will report you to the superintendent and security manager."

According to Oregon DOC policy 20.1.2, "A correctional official's fundamental duty is to protect Department of Corrections' incarcerated persons against deception, oppression, intimidation, violence or disorder." Oregon's DOC policy 20.1.3 states, "An employee shall not use brutality, physical violence, profanity, obscenity or otherwise abusing language or intimidation towards inmates."

My question is: What part(s) of those policies does Officer R. Davis not understand?

Are unprovoked situations such as this really necessary? After all, inmates are sent to prison as punishment, not FOR punishment. Yet correctional officials throughout prisons in the U.S. go out of their way to subject inmates to various forms of harassment and assualts. Prison is an ugly affair, but must it be made uglier by prison officials going out of their way to make an inmate's time harder?

In my opinion, correctional officials should role model positive values for inmates and, while maintaining appropriate boundaries, correctional officials should interest and motivate inmates through respect and dignity. Correctional officials should have a responsibility to society to ensure inmates return to the community no more angry or hostile than when they were committed.

Let me know what you think.

Barrilee Bannister #11309597
PO Box 9000
Wilsonville, OR 97070

Note: Barrilee Bannister also edits a zine of writings and art by women in prison. For more information about "Tenacious: Writings from Women in Prison," contact  cradlecap00@yahoo.com

Thanks for posting this item 06.Aug.2003 15:34

Dance

I liked your sentence, "inmates are sent to prison as punishment, not FOR punishment." I've long been disgusted at the idea which some people espouse that abuse in prison at the hands of the authorities or other prisoners is somehow appropriate "punishment". I find it to be entirely unjust, as well as cruel and, for the most part, counter-productive to society's well-being.

I agree that correctional facilities ought to model and teach desired behavior, not behavior that's only tolereated from people who can get away with it because they're in positions of authority (such as prison guards, drill sargeants, and CEOs). Few inmates will be able to adapt those behaviors they've observed to their roles when they get out of prison. One would think that a place called a "correctional" institution would be designed to correct one's behavior in society, not just impose a subservient demeanor for the limited time that they are incarcerated. And one would think that the idea of teaching by example would be more widely accepted in this society now than changing behavior by intimidation.

Unfortunately, the psychologists and penologists who were active during the reformist period (?1940s-1970s?) seem to have all but disappeared. Some of their notions were overly academic or too pro-institution, but, at least many of them offerred some progressive changes. In recent years the penal systems in this country seem to have been reclaimed by those who want to use prisons to scapegoat and marginalize certain types of people, aided by special interests who want to direct big profits to certain corporations. They have effectively learned not only to pander to the public's fears, but to foster it. Whereas "rehabilitation" was the guideword for the purpose of incarceration forty years ago, I seldom hear the word any more. In the last couple of decades, "punishment" and even "retribution" are often openly acknowledged as the only intended results.

Are you for REAL???? 21.Aug.2003 07:53

Anony

Bannister are you for real??? All I see is you whining about what you think is happening to you.... I called and checked on this, and it seems to me that you are stating a lot of untruth.... You have never said anything about harrassing other prisoners and making havic amongst your fellow inmates... I have done a lot of checking, and it seems to me that your ONE huge incident that you are claiming, is actually things that may have happened over a length of time.... and you decided to put them all together to make them sound as though you are being mistreated...... I have no doubt that there may or could be some actions happening amongst some officers, but do you really think that you are being singled out??? Are you the ONLY inmate in there that these officers focus on??? Big head......

I know that you are now serving seg time.... hmmmm could it be that the stories you tell are of untruth??? I would think that if this sort of actions were truly happening to you... this facility would be shut down..... So I would suggest, that you start telling the truth in the matter... I will be doing more research in this..... I will find the truth.... as of now... You sound full of Crap..... Get your head out of your butt, and start being honest with everyone, especially yourself for once!!!!!

its true 22.Aug.2005 01:44

Iris

I was housed at cccf aug 2003 to ayg 2004 and all she is saying is true the gueards have nothing better too do

Barrilee Bannister - Help her return to society with her daughter 20.Jun.2006 12:58

Robert O

I am a very good friend of Barrilee Bannister. In Febuary 2007, she will be released from prison. After serving 12 years in prison, she has no real family or means of support. Her daughter is living in New York, she would like for anyone who would like to help her obtain custody of her little girl or to help her financially to please send a small donation to Oregon DOC central trust - po box 9000 Salem, Or 97309-5077 - please include her name Barrilee Bannister and doc# 11309597 on a money order. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Barrilee Bannister doc# 11309597 po box 9000 wilsonville oregon 97070

prison 03.Jan.2007 08:58

alicia cinquester@yahoo.com

well let me say 1st of all i have known barrie for mostly all my life and i know that she is not a bad person shit happens this is to the person who made the comment about her just lying,well truth to be told i personally think that you are either the wife of the guard or the guard that this happend with.either that or maybey you are a guard that disagrees with her reaching out or have had a conflict with her in the past...you dont know the truth if you havent personally been there to see..who gives a crap what you have investigated ofcorse they arent gonna be truthful with you,and you also said you have and will be looking into this more why are you so worried?the ionly reason you would know anything forsure is if you were involved in it.so go on with your comments,you are negative and you dont know anything so.that is my honest opinion.