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Catch 'Mothering Inside,' Documentary on Coffee Creek's Family Preservation Project

State officials are phasing out the program; supporters want to save it

Portland filmmaker Brian Lindstrom will screen Mothering Inside, his documentary about Coffee Creek Correctional Facility's unique parenting program, Thursday night at Cinema 21.

The timing of the film's release is bitter, because the program is going away, but supporters are hoping to use the film to change that. 

Late last year, the Oregon Department of Corrections announced it was pulling the plug on the program, the Family Preservation Project, saying it was too expensive and served too few families at the women's prison.

The intensive program, launched in 2010, rekindled bonds between female inmates and their children by teaching mothers parenting skills and by regularly bringing the children to Coffee Creek. That's no small feat. Families of incarcerated women often have plenty of reasons not to want to visit, including tight budgets, limited time and unaddressed anger. The program worked with families as well as inmates to clear these hurdles so children could spend time with their mothers.

The program has many ardent supporters, including Lindstrom, who filmed mothers and their families for months inside Coffee Creek with permission from the prison. Under pressure from state lawmakers, including state Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland) and Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), corrections officials hatched a compromise to phase out the program rather than abruptly end it.

Lindstrom and others still have hope the program can be saved. They're trying to launch a fundraising effort to fund the program independently.

The film screens at 7 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 19 at Cinema 21, 616 NW 21st Ave. A Q&A will follow.