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DOC officers to head to Norway

The corrections officers are participating in an international exchange aimed at improving officer job satisfaction and prison motiviation and engagement in rehabilitation.

PAMPLIN FILE PHOTO - Oregon State Penitentiary Minimum in SalemIn an unprecedented move, the Oregon Department of Corrections plans to send at least 10 corrections officers in September on an exchange to Norway to observe that nation's prison system.

A delegation of Oregon lawmakers visited the country last year to see the prison system.

The department is using grant money from the Jacob & Valeria Langeloth Foundation to participate in the U.S.-Norway Correctional Culture Exchange Program, which was developed and is operated by the University of California, San Francisco.

The program seeks to foster cross-cultural professional learning and development between staff at the state DOC and the Norwegian Correctional Service, said Jennifer Black, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Corrections.

"Our overall goal is to produce higher standards of professionalism and more healthy and productive working environments in each participating system," Black said.

Oregon DOC Director Colette Peters told state lawmakers earlier this week that she hopes participants will learn ways to enhance officer job satisfaction and prisoner motivation and engagement in rehabilitation.

"The officers in Norway were healthy mentally and physically healthy. That's one of outcomes we hope to produce," Peters said.

Corrections officer jobs are the most highly sought after government jobs in Norway, the corrections department director said. Norwegian officers go through two years of academy training before they work in a prison.

Some of the curriculum is inspiration for training classes Oregon hopes to offer, including topics such as psychology/motivational interviewing, ethics and criminal justice, Peters said.

The department is seeking additional funding to send as many as six more staff members on the trip, Black said.

As part of the exchange, corrections officers from Norway will visit Oregon's prisons. Peters said she hopes the date will correspond with the state's 2019 Justice Reinvestment Summit the theme of which is "Love Thy Future Neighbor as Thyself."