Innovative Programs and Cutting-Edge Technology Help Keep Oregon’s Recidivism Rates at a Record Low

Oregon’s recidivism rates continue to stay at a record low, thanks in part to the Department of Corrections’ dedicated leadership. In 2012, Director Colette S. Peters encouraged department managers to find ways to connect inmates with their families. One of the groundbreaking programs was shepherded through by many, including Shelli Honeywell, Telmate’s April Hero of the Month.

An Operations and Policy-Fiscal Services Manager for the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), Honeywell is a public servant at heart. She has worked at various local and state government positions over the last 15 years.

Our local hero’s accolades include a Juris Doctorate of Law and a Master of Business Administration, but she simply refers to herself as a member of the team. “I am thankful for the dedicated staff here,” Honeywell said. “They made this great adventure we’re on happen, and have created the great success we’ve achieved so far.”

ODOC has custody of offenders sentenced to prison for more than 12 months, currently housing approximately 14,600 adults in 14 state prisons. The department has been recognized nationally among correctional agencies for providing inmates with the cognitive, behavioral, and job skills they need to become productive citizens. They have been reported to be one of America’s best prison systems with one of the lowest recidivism rates in the country.

Among the department’s many innovative programs is the technology they use behind bars. In just a few years, ODOC inmates have made over 560,000 connections through Telmate technology, including electronic messages and Video Interactive Phone (VIP) calls. Before 2012, only 40 percent of inmates in Oregon were receiving some form of visitation. With today’s options, 60 percent of inmates are benefiting from connections with family and friends.

Honeywell has observed first-hand the positive impact the Telmate technology is having across the department. “The potential for additional features like education, commissary, and internet access are going to be valuable in enhancing connection and positive interactions for adults in custody,” she said.

When asked what’s next for our local hero, she replied, “We would love to see others embrace what we’ve done and seen. True success will impact all of us, not just Oregon. In the end, reduced recidivism rates mean safer communities, and therefore a better world for the next generations to come.”