Oregon: Politics & Penology

Sprawled on the outskirts of Salem, the state capital, Oregon's 102-year-old penitentiary has long been a favorite target of downtown politicians. During the early 1950s, after repeated turmoil and unrest at the prison, some sarcastically suggested putting up a sign on a nearby road: "Drive carefully. Prisoners escaping here." Lately the prison has again been beset by problems, including several inmate suicides, harsh punitive practices and trafficking in marijuana. Fortnight ago, the speaker of the state house of representatives, F. F. ("Monty") Montgomery, loudly demanded an investigation. Embarrassed by such clangor from a fellow Republican, Governor Tom McCall warned...