During winter break of her senior year, Heidi Cupp ‘10 traveled to the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute in Pendleton, Ore. to conduct research for her senior project in anthropology, titled “Recidivism in Inmates with Drug Related Crimes.”
Cupp interviewed five inmates and three counselors in an attempt to understand why previously imprisoned criminals have a tendency to return to prison. According to Cupp, 70 percent of those who are currently imprisoned have been to prison before.
Specifically, Cupp looked at inmates who committed crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She asked the inmates about their lives before and after imprisonment. In addition, she asked them how and why they got involved in drugs or alcohol.
The 21-year-old student "grew up around prison and hearing all about prison and inmates." Her grandfather was once the warden of the penitentiary in Salem, Ore. and both of her parents worked as prison guards.
"I like working with vulnerable populations, with people who don't have a voice," Cupp told the Pacific Index, "I look at anthropology as a degree in people. It's a degree that helps you understand and relate to people better."
The inmates Cupp interviewed will receive a copy of her 70-page paper.