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State judge rules that SRCI must enforce mask mandate, consider rapid tests for employees

Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario. (Kezia Setyawan/The Enterprise)

ONTARIO – A state judge last week ordered officials at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario to devise a plan to enforce mask use at the prison and to deploy mass testing after finding that the state’s treatment of two inmates reflected indifference during the Covid pandemic.

Multnomah Circuit Court Judge Amy Baggio issued her findings and orders after two inmates sued prison officials in Malheur County Circuit Court. Local state judges recused themselves from the case.

“Certain SRCI staff view mask wearing as an issue of politics rather than one related to health and welfare during a pandemic,” Baggio concluded. “Mask failures by staff are particularly troubling considering the very nature of their jobs: to oversee a large, congregate environment.”

Her findings came in . . .