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Oregon General Prison Talk, Introductions & Chit Chat Topics & Discussions relating to Prison & the Criminal Justice System in Oregon that do not fit into any other Oregon sub-forum category. Please feel free to also introduce yourself to other members in the state and talk about whatever topics come to mind that may not have anything to do with prison.

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Old 04-29-2015, 09:36 PM
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Default What Happens When An Inmate Passes Away in Oregon?

I wasn't sure where to ask this question but I was hoping someone on here knows the answer. I am asking for an elderly woman who is concerned and wanting to know cuz her son is in prison and for myself as well since I have never been able to find the answer online for some reason and my own husband is in prison. When someone passes away in prison in Oregon, what happens to their body? Does family or wives receive their bodies to bury them in family plots or does the state keep them even after they have died? I read somewhere once that if an inmate dies even for 1 minute while he is incarcerated he is no longer considered " state property " even if he is revived. So if they pass away, do get our husbands or relatives bodies to bury ourselves or cremate? or do they still keep them from us?
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:16 PM
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Hi, since your question is specific to Oregon, I moved your thread to this location.

In regard to what happens, the best place that I can direct you is to the administrative procedures of DOC. This provides their step-by-step procedure. I sincerely hope that this is something you never need to explore further.

I would recommend that 2 things happen if they have not already:
~have the inmate sign the HIPAA form which allows DOC to release information. If someone is ill, this will allow you to know their status, treatment and options.
~make sure to have the responsible person listed as next of kin. This will insure that they are contacted in the event of horrible news.

Both of these forms are probably found within administrative directives or policy.

I wish you all the best.
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Old 04-30-2015, 01:34 AM
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Thank You for the information. Im not sure if my husband has done both those things or not but I will check with him. I know I am his contact person if something happens and he said he made it to where I can call and get his status if he suddenly becomes sick or injured and I have POA for him. But I have heard that a woman's husband died a year or so ago and she was absolutely shocked when she was told she couldn't have his remains and she even went to the governor and had him on her side and she was willing to pay for everything but they still would not give her husbands remains to her. Instead they took him far away for cremation and she doesn't even know where he is at. She totally fell apart afterwards. But it was just something we were told so I don't even know for sure if it is true. But I don't think I could handle that if they did that to me. I have to at least have him here with me even if he has crossed over. My neighbor's son is also in the same prson as my husband and she is just beside herself with worry now after we were told this by another visitor. My husband is not sure what the process is and has heard similar horror stories. I think that is one of the cruelest things they could do to a family. Guess I need to check around to see if I can find out what Oregon really does.
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Old 04-30-2015, 06:22 AM
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My father died in the OSP infirmary in September of last year.

When an inmate dies, the state police are called to investigate. If the investigation shows foul play, the body will be removed to the coroner's office for safe keeping until the investigation & autopsy/cause of death are confirmed. The coroner will release the body to a contracted mortuary.

In theory, DOC has 72 hours to notify whoever the inmate has listed as their emergency contact. Sometimes the system works, sometimes it doesn't, but the death is typically reported via the chaplain's office or the Superintendent.

Once the body is at the contracted mortuary, you can work with them or you can work with a different mortuary to recover the body. The contracted mortuary has one week that they have to hold the body before they can cremate it as an 'unclaimed body'. So if you don't act quickly as soon as you've been notified, yes, it can be difficult or impossible to get the remains back.

After you've been notified, call the officer in charge (main prison #) and find out if the coroner has released the body yet. If you want to go through a different mortuary, get things set up on your end, and get the name/phone number of the contracted mortuary. Make contact with them as soon as you can and let them know that a second mortuary will be coming. If you are fine with cremation, it may be less expensive to ask the contracted mortuary for a "private cremation" (e.g. no other remains cremated with your LO's remains) rather than paying for transfer etc. to a different mortuary, then picking up the ashes yourself.

As with all things DOC, it is not a simple process, and it must be done while you're in shock. The longer you wait to "get yourself together", the greater the likelihood that you won't be able to recover the remains.

I was "lucky" in that my Dad died of cancer, so I knew he was going to die and lined up much of the bureaucracy ahead of time. If it had been a sudden death, it would have been much more difficult.
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Old 04-30-2015, 09:25 PM
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GingerM, thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. It seems that your experience matches the expectations outlined in Administrative Policy. I am very sorry for your loss and hope that you are doing well.

JohnnysAngel, the reason the release of information is important is that it will allow DOC and any other medical provider to share private, protected information. This is particularly true if he is ill or injured and you are looking for a specific diagnosis and are also examining treatment options. It may be that this is redundant to the POA, but I would check to make certain.

The story that you recounted sounds like one of those horrible urban legends, told and re-told, scaring & infuriating all those that hear it. GingerM raises a really good point; one week, particularly when devastated and shocked, is not much time to coordinate with DOC and to make decisions most of us have never considered. In that situation we may not be aware of the ticking clock and how important our timely response is.

While I think that putting some thought into this is a good idea, unless you are expecting imminent death, I'm not sure that further action and investigation is useful or helpful. You have the policy and know what DOC says will happen in the event of an inmate death. I think that I would prefer to plan on my loved one's survival and plan for the future. If I invested tons of energy into his death, it would feel like I was introducing that energy into the Universe...something I do not wish to do.

Best wishes--and a long & healthy life!
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Old 05-01-2015, 06:21 AM
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The HIPPA release form is definitely needed in addition to a Power of Attorney. Without a HIPPA release form, they will not be able to give you any information on his medical state, only on his location. You definitely want to have a HIPPA release form signed with you named as a person allowed to receive information about your LO's health.

I wrote this shortly after my father died, while the information was still fresh: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=668621

While I agree that its best to focus on the positive, there are some realities to face as well. My Dad was healthy as a horse, and his family has a genetic tendency to live well into their 90's. I did not expect him to die in prison. He did not expect to die of natural causes in prison. He was more concerned about inmate on inmate violence. I viewed getting those papers (HIPPA, PoA etc) together in the same light as I view automobile insurance - it's not that I plan or expect to need it, but it's good to have when the unexpected happens.

And IF the unexpected happens, it is too late then to be filling out paperwork. Similarly, having a Will drawn up is a good idea (for everyone - I have a Will, though I don't plan on dying anytime soon and I'm not incarcerated). But IF something unexpected happens, it will be much easier on those left behind.

Sign the papers then forget about them. They don't go "bad", and have no expiration date. And I hope that you never need to use them, but if you do - that's the hardest time to be remembering all the bureaucratic steps.
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