From left to right- Robert Hasson, Tim Campbell, Curtis Low, Richard Ortega, Robert Gladney at Documart
Rich's troubled life began at age 12 and by age 14 he cycled in and out of jail until he was finally sentenced to serve prison time. He finished his sentence, returned to the drug scene, and quickly returned to prison. This cycle happened five more times. Robert G entered prison at a young age with no real work history. He had no plan for success. Robert H entered prison when he was 21 years old. His crime was motivated by addiction. Curtis was given to a children's home when he was 10 months old. He never learned to connect with people and became good at hurting people. He was finally apprehended and began a lengthy prison sentence. Tim had a seemingly wonderful life, having a family and a child, and working in middle management. He made some bad decisions, began using drugs, and began associating with the wrong crowd. At 32 years old, he entered prison.
Every man had a different story; and each had a different sentence length. Some served time in multiple institutions. Some had never been legally employed. Eventually, each of them was transferred to Oregon State Correctional Institution (OSCI), although not all at the same time. A few of them participated in the DOC Insight Development Group where they learned empathy and responsibility for their previous acts. One by one, each was accepted into the OCE Print Shop work and training program. Each person rotated through multiple stations and began developing (or enhancing) both technical and general employment skills. They gained a healthy respect for their new work environment. Robert G says, "Once I scanned my ID into the OCE area, my world changed 100 percent. This place [Print Shop] saved my life." Tim says, "Walking into an OCE area is like leaving prison. It's such a positive environment.” Robert H appreciates that his supervisor recognized potential and began coaching him for success. He eventually mastered the skills at each station he was assigned to and was able to save some money to prepare for release. "You earn more in OCE jobs"
Curtis describes the self-improvement cycle that happens in OCE: "Staff will notice your willingness to change and give you more responsibility. This helps you feel some self-confidence, so you try to prove yourself. Staff see the improvement and give you even more responsibility. This makes you feel even better about yourself, so you try to prove your new-found level of worth. And it just continues.” Rich did so well that he eventually promoted to a journeyman-level position, helping to pass on the skills he had mastered. “When you give someone a second chance, it creates loyalty."
Upon release, Tim applied several places and was told “no” more times than he can count. After several part-time minimum wage jobs, he applied and was eventually hired by Documart. Proving himself to be an excellent employee, he quickly promoted to Plant Manager and convinced the owner to give a second chance to other people working like him. Having known them while assigned to OCE, Tim contacted Rich and Curtis and encouraged them to apply. Documart said yes. Then Tim contacted the Print Shop and asked for referrals. Robert H had proved himself by achieving both the Print Shop and Mailroom certifications and improving his attitude. Again, Documart said yes. Next, the Print Shop saw hope for Robert G and contacted Tim. Documart said yes. All of these former OCE workers give each other encouragement and support. “Each of us have been there. We know the signs when someone is having a bad day, and we immediately step in.” They also celebrate successes, big or small. The morning these five were interviewed, Robert G was late to work. While letting his car warm up, he ran inside to get something and returned to find his car had been stolen. He immediately drew on all of the personal skills he learned from DOC and OCE, turned to his girlfriend, and said, “Call the police!” It was the first time in his life he had even thought about using those words. Yet, he didn’t allow himself to be upset at the perpetrator. “How could I be mad at him? I used to be him.” (Tim gave Robert G a ride to work that day.)
Read more AIC success stories and learn about OCE training programs and projects by visiting our STORIES PAGE.