A New Way of Living

Renovations to the living units at MacLaren aim to better support rehabilitation.

On a recent spring afternoon at Boulder Unit, several youth played cornhole or spent time in quiet contemplation on the patio.

In their old living unit, their view would have been obscured by metal fence links. But on Boulder, the patio walls are completely clear, giving them unobstructed views of the grassy field and pink flowering tree nearby.

The views of nature and natural light are part of the focus of the renovations Oregon Youth Authority recently completed at Boulder, located at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility.

The entire unit was remodeled to bring its design more in line with best practices in positive youth development, while also making seismic upgrades and taking care of deferred maintenance.

Inside, the paint and floor colors are warmer, instead of institutional white. Furniture and surfaces are meant to look less correctional and more home-like. Windows that used to be covered with bars now provide clear paths for sunlight to enter.

Research shows that therapeutic approaches are more effective at reducing youth reoffending than punitive ones, and that natural settings can alleviate the adverse effects of children’s exposure to chronic stress. Learn more about OYA’s work to improve our living units in the video below.

Boulder is the second living unit in MacLaren’s Valley area to receive a full remodel. Renovations of a third unit are currently underway, with three more coming soon. Ultimately, if funding is approved, Oregon Youth Authority hopes to remodel all eight Valley cottages in a similar fashion.

Images of Boulder Unit at MacLaren

  • flowering tree outside a building
  • two young men look out through clear window outside
  • young man looks out through clear window outside on porch
  • flowering tree outside a building
  • inside kitchen area
  • several young people sit at a table in a day room
  • several young people play card game at a table
  • staff and youth walk around in day room
  • beds inside a room
  • bunk bed with dream catcher hanging on wall
  • bed with shelves and rug
  • beds inside sleeping area
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