Over the last few years, one of the many injustices that the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted is how prisons fail to protect the health of adults in custody. Crowded prisons with insufficient access to masks and hygiene infrastructure have caused Oregonians in prison to become sick and die from COVID-19 at rates that would have been lower had Governor Brown released more prisoners who were deemed safe to leave prison and shelter in homes to avoid the virus.Read more
Racism is a public health crisis. Last year, the Oregon legislature declared it to be so by passing House Resolution 6. But we need more than declarations in a crisis – we need action. That’s why during this legislative session Oregon PSR is supporting House Bill 4052, the Racism is a Public Health Crisis Bill, which takes steps to address the health disparities in our state that stem from the long history and current realities of systemic racism. The bill is moving through the Joint Ways and Means committee this week and expected to reach the House and Senate floors for a vote soon.
Now is the time to contact your Oregon State Senator and Representative and ask them to support HB 4052, the Racism is a Public Health Crisis Bill. Find your legislators' contact information here and email or call to ask for their support.
Developed by the Oregon Health Equity Task Force, HB 4052: creates two pilot mobile health clinics to increase access in underserved communities; invests in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community engagement to advance further strategies; and develops recommendations to fund culturally specific health programs. Read the one-pager on the bill for more information.
Tell the Oregon Legislature to pass this bill and begin to take action to repair the health harms caused by racism. Contact your state Senator and Representative today!
Thank you for taking action to begin to dismantle systemic racism and its negative health impacts on BIPOC Oregonians.
Over the last few years, one of the many injustices that the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted is how prisons fail to protect the health of adults in custody. Crowded prisons with insufficient access to masks and hygiene infrastructure have caused Oregonians in prison to become sick and die from COVID-19 at rates that would have been lower had Governor Brown released more prisoners who were deemed safe to leave prison and shelter in homes to avoid the virus.
Even though Oregonians in state prisons now have access to COVID-19 vaccines, Oregon's process for compassionate early medical release needs to be improved. Senate Bill 1568 (formerly known as Legislative Concept 142) would establish an independent Medical Release Advisory Committee (MRAC) of health professionals within the Board of Parole to make recommendations for inmate medical releases based on medical and public health criteria. Current criteria for early medical release are too narrow, requests are not reviewed by medical professionals, and the application process is inaccessible and slow. SB 1568 would greatly improve this process for inmates who have pressing medical needs that cannot be met by state prisons.
Read a factsheet on SB 1568 from our partners at Oregon Justice Resource Center for more information.
Find your state legislators' email address and phone number and encourage them to support SB 1568.
Here is a sample email/script:
I am contacting you to express my support for Senate Bill 1568, which would greatly improve Oregon's process of compassionate early medical release from prisons. Some health conditions cannot be well-managed inside of Oregon's prisons, and all Oregonians have a right to access the medical care and treatment that they need. We have learned during the COVID-19 crisis that prisons are often not well-equipped to care for public health.
Right now, requests for early medical release are difficult to submit and aren't reviewed by medical professionals. Senate Bill 1568 would create an independent Medical Release Advisory Committee of health professionals within the Board of Parole to make recommendations for inmate medical releases based on improved medical and public health criteria. Criteria would be phased in over time and the Board of Parole would still hold the final say. We must pass Senate Bill 1568 this session so that we can begin implementing an improved, health-based approach to caring for Oregonians who are serving prison sentences.
Health care is a human right for all - please support Senate Bill 1568.
[Your name, city, ZIP code]
Major policy change is being voted on by the Portland City Council during the waning days of 2021, when so many people are not paying close attention. Last week, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced an agenda item at a City Council meeting that would once again allow the City of Portland to invest in corporate securities with very few restrictions.Read more
Major policy change is being voted on by the Portland City Council during the waning days of 2021, when so many people are not paying close attention. Last week, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced an agenda item at a City Council meeting that would once again allow the City of Portland to invest in corporate securities with very few restrictions. As written, the policy would allow investments in such destructive industries as coal, fracked gas, and nuclear weapons. City Council is poised to vote on this new policy tomorrow (Wednesday, December 22nd) without any public comment allowed at the hearing.
Contact Portland City Commissioners today and tell them: Portland’s corporate investment strategy should match its values.
Background: In 2017, the Portland City Council disbanded its Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Committee, which had been charged with making recommendations about corporate investments to avoid based on a council-approved list of social and values concerns. Council then said they would avoid the issues altogether by not investing in corporate securities. In 2019-2021, the City annually adopted a short list of corporate securities that were the only allowable corporate investments.
The new investment policy, slated to be adopted tomorrow, makes a major shift in this policy by instead relying on a list of prohibited industries to be avoided (see exhibit A, page 10). But the list is woefully incomplete and was arrived at with virtually no public input. For example, the list prohibits investing in oil, but says nothing about other fossil fuels such as coal or fracked gas. It prohibits investments in small arms, but would allow investments in military weapons including nuclear weapons. While the previous SRI committee screened for labor standards and human rights, this new approach says nothing about avoiding corporations that do not uphold these values.
Mayor Wheeler claims that this is a “work in progress” and insists it must be adopted by the end of 2021. If the City Council is to adopt this policy now, they must set up a process for Portlanders to provide input and ensure that any corporate investments match city values and reinforce adopted policies.
Take Action: Contact the Mayor and City Commissioners today and tell them that Portlanders deserve a say in how city funds are invested. Click each name below to send an email now.
- Commissioner Carmen Rubio
- Commissioner Dan Ryan
- Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
- Commissioner Mingus Mapps
- Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler
Update (12/22/21): Due to community feedback, we were able to delay the vote by a week, and when the commissioners voted in the new policy today, they talked about their understanding that there will now be periodic check-ins and an opportunity for community input on changes to Portland’s investment policy to make sure that its investments are consistent with its values.
This is a victory for democracy that opens up new possibilities for the City of Portland to walk its talk by divesting from nuclear weapons, all fossil fuels, and other destructive industries. Please keep sharing your feedback with city council and stay tuned for how to impact this policy in 2022!
Since the earliest days of the nuclear age, US nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining have sickened and killed untold numbers of people in the US. There is a program to provide restitution to these individuals — the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) — but it is severely flawed and will expire in less than a year unless Congress takes action. Learn more about RECA and the need to extend and expand it.
Please take a moment to call Oregon Senators and your Representative on this important issue right now:
- Oregon Senators Ron Wyden (202-224-5244) and Jeff Merkley (202-224-3753) are not yet sponsors of RECA. Call them and ask that they co-sponsor RECA and expand it (Senate Bill 2798).
- Oregon Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (202-225-0855), Earl Blumenauer (202-225-4811), Peter DeFazio (202-225-6416), and Kurt Schrader (202-225-5711) are cosponsors of RECA (HR 5338). Call their offices and thank them, and ask that they expand RECA.
- Oregon Representative Cliff Benz (202-225-6730) is not yet a sponsor of HR 5338. Call and ask him to co-sponsor the bipartisan RECA bill.
Not in Oregon or don’t know who represents you? Look it up here.
Estimates of the number of cancer cases linked to US nuclear testing range from tens to hundreds of thousands. And, since the 1930s, we have known that there is a clear link between cancers and radiation exposure in uranium mines and mills. This is also an issue of environmental and racial justice: nuclear weapons activities have disproportionately contaminated the environment and threatened the health of Indigenous communities, communities of color, and poor, rural communities.
RECA is a valuable program, and its enactment was a huge step towards justice for those harmed, but it still has major flaws. Many highly exposed communities are still excluded from RECA. In Oregon, we have both uranium miners and Atomic Veterans who will be harmed if RECA is allowed to expire. Problematically, a few key groups are not included in the legislation due to an error and this is especially harming the second-generation clean-up veterans. The amount of compensation victims receive barely covers the cost of cancer treatment, and more often than not it comes far short of reaching that low bar. And, perhaps most significantly, RECA is set to expire in July 2022.
Thankfully, new legislation would vastly improve RECA by:
- Extending the program for 19 years to allow additional individuals to apply;
- Expanding coverage to additional uranium workers and downwinders who are currently excluded; and
- Increasing compensation and providing medical benefits.
We need to also make sure that ALL atomic and cleanup veterans are included.
“My uncle was an Atomic Veteran who died a miserable death due to the strange cancers doctors had never seen before. His family never received any RECA compensation. We cannot repair the betrayal nor the physical harms, like cancer, disease, sterility, spontaneous abortions, birth defects and early death caused by negligent exposure to radiation.” — Dr. Linda Richards, historian of radiation science and harm at Oregon State University
Many individuals across the country continue to suffer from past US nuclear weapons development and testing. Thank you for standing with them to help achieve justice.
The theme of the scholarship in 2021 was Art & Creation: Self Expression, Activism, and Social Change. This has historically been a writing scholarship open to all Oregon 11th and 12th grade students. This year, though, we asked young Oregonians who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and who are high school juniors or seniors or the equivalent to respond to the prompt by creating a work of visual art. The scholarship’s goal is to illuminate the perspectives of Oregon's youth on issues of peace, health, justice, and safety in our world.
In its eleventh consecutive year in 2019, the Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship is an opportunity to hear from young Oregonians on some of the most pressing issues of our time. We sponsor this annual writing scholarship in order to encourage Oregon’s youth to consider their leadership role in promoting a more healthy, just, and peaceful world.
The question for Oregon high school 11th and 12th grade students to answer this year was: "How can you work against systemic racism to help make our world more healthy and peaceful?"
Our 2019 Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship Awards Ceremony was held on Friday April 26th at 6 PM at Celebration Tabernacle Church. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Brian Gibbs, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion at Oregon Health & Science University.
For the fourteenth consecutive year, the Greenfield Peace Scholarship served as an opportunity to hear from young Oregonians on some of the most pressing issues of our time. We sponsor this annual scholarship in order to encourage Oregon’s youth to consider their leadership role in promoting a more healthy, just, and peaceful world.Read more
Thanks for Joining Us for Our 2021 Hiroshima & Nagasaki Memorial Ceremony & the We Hold Sacred Exhibit!
Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for our August 6th, 2021 Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial ceremony and the We Hold Sacred exhibit! Even with our audience size limited as a precaution relative to the ongoing pandemic, we were so honored to share an evening of remembrance of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all those negatively impacted by more than 76 years of nuclear injustice, as well as a celebration of the nuclear justice movement, especially as led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color individuals and communities, with our fully vaccinated and masked attendees.Read more