Oregon prison's 'blue room' earns praise

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ONTARIO, Idaho (KTVB) — Oregon's Snake River Correctional Institution is getting national attention. With the help of Nalini Nadkarni, a forest ecologist, they developed the Blue Room, being hailed by TIME magazine as one of the 25 best inventions of 2014.

One of the officers at the prison saw a TED talk by Nadkarni and pitched it to the folks at the prison. They have been using the Blue Room with a select group of inmates since April 2013.

Those inmates have the biggest mental and behavioral problems in the Snake River Correctional Institution. They have issues like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. They spend 23 hours a day alone in their cell with limited reading materials.

The hope is that the Blue Room will help them cope with mental issues, resulting in better behavior.

"The goal is that they're also learning skills so that when they get released, hopefully those skills will be used out in the community with how to cope with their mental health condition," said Behavioral Health Services Manager Renee Smith.

To see more of the story, watch the video above or visit KTVB's website.

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Stephanie Zepelin, NBC News


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