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A noted art collector and philanthropist has sold a major painting for an eye-popping $165 million to raise money for criminal justice reform.

Agnes Gund sold Roy Lichtenstein's 1962 work Masterpiece, reportedly to billionaire hedge fund manager and art collector Steve Cohen. The sale apparently took place months ago; an art industry newsletter reported on the transaction in January, but Gund would not confirm it.

The proposal for a King County youth jail was sailing through the approval process—but may now face roadblocks. The Seattle City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to let people appeal the jail's permit.


A Washington state prison inmate was accidentally held three-and-a-half years beyond his release date. The error was discovered last month. This follows the mistaken early release of nearly 3,000 Washington inmates over a 13-year period.

FLICKR PHOTO/Chip Griffin(CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/4xNLFK

Bill Radke speaks with Bremerton Police Chief Steven Strachan about a controversial crossword puzzle published in the New York Times.

Washington state has a new secretary of Corrections. Stephen Sinclair has been with the department for 28 years. Most recently he was in charge of the prison division. He was previously the superintendent of the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla.




Since 2011, Washington’s prison system has deported 339 convicted felons instead of locking them up. The deportations are part of a voluntary program designed to reduce prison costs.

Prison jail bars
Flickr Photo/Thomas Hawk (CC BY NC 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1MLz2Y5

King County executive Dow Constantine is calling for the creation of two new centers to help keep young people in King County out of jail.

In his annual State of the County address Monday, Constantine proposed two facilities, "Safe Spaces," which would provide services to young people dealing with challenges like homelessness, expulsion or low-level run-ins with the law.

Detainees are shown inside a holding cell at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., Friday, Oct. 17, 2008.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Tacoma officials have taken a step that effectively stops Washington's immigrant detention center from growing.

The Tacoma City Council passed an emergency ordinance Tuesday that targets private and public prisons. The measure temporarily bans expansion of private prisons and limits where public correctional facilities can be located within Tacoma.

In 2014 and 2015, Washington's prison system experienced a spike in inmate suicides. During those two years 11 inmate deaths were ruled suicides, giving Washington one of the highest prison suicide rates in the country.

Richard Billings, Jr., 38

Child molestation

Sentence: 144 months

In 2014 and 2015, Washington's prison system experienced a spike in inmate suicides. During those two years 11 inmate deaths were ruled suicides, giving Washington one of the highest prison suicide rates in the country. Austin Jenkins has spent the past year investigating how this happened and how the prison system responded.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Con Air, you know that high-risk prison inmates are sometimes moved around the country on charter flights. It turns out the state of Washington has its own version of Con Air.

FLICK PHOTO/ caged (CC by 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/7JELJr

Bill Radke speaks with Tanya Erzen, associate professor of religion and gender studies at the University of Puget Sound, about the rise of Christian faith-based ministry in prisons. 

In Washington state prisons, 85 percent of the faith-based ministries for inmates are Christian. That tracks with what's happening in prisons all over the country. 

The lobby at the King County juvenile detention center lacks privacy, jail workers say.
KUOW Photo/Natalie Newcomb

Some city and King County leaders are calling for a reappraisal of construction of a new youth jail in Seattle. But they're getting pushback.

County Executive Dow Constantine said there’s still a need to rebuild the current jail, but he says the county should adopt a goal of “zero youth detention.”

"It is the long goal and I’m going to ask the county family, not just the council, but the justice system to adopt that as our goal,” he said.

In one of his last moves in office, President Obama has commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army private who leaked a massive trove of military secrets to WikiLeaks.

The former intelligence analyst's prison sentence has been shortened to expire on May 17, 2017, according to a statement from the White House.

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Seattle P-I reporter Levi Pulkkinen about his story that looked into the treatment of mentally ill inmates in Washington state jails.  

Rally organizers handed out signs declaring Washington a 'hate-free state.'
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Washington elected officials who came out to denounce racism and hate found themselves in a verbal match against protesters.

What started as a show of support for members of a Redmond mosque was disrupted by residents opposing a proposed juvenile detention center in Seattle.


Oregon lawmakers are delaying a decision on whether to open a second women's prison. A legislative panel voted Wednesday to deny a funding request from the Oregon Department of Corrections.

A sentencing calculation error that led to the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates over more than a decade came to light one year ago this month. And Washington’s interim Secretary of Corrections has warned a similar mistake could happen again.

Washington’s only maximum security prison for women is overcrowded. That means some inmates are being housed at the Yakima County Jail. Now family members are calling on the Gov. Jay Inslee to halt those transfers.

Washington jails are old, crowded and holding people who are disabled, mentally ill and often haven’t yet been convicted of a crime. County jails are often the first stop for people who enter the criminal justice system.

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Disabled inmates are suffering from discrimination and isolation in Washington jails. That’s the finding of a report out Wednesday from Disability Rights Washington.

The decision to stop calling Washington prison inmates “offenders” is not sitting well with a group of Republican state senators. They’ve written a letter to Secretary of Corrections Dick Morgan challenging the policy change.

A pilot project coming to Washington aims to bring an end to modern-day "debtors prisons."

Past offenders can end up back in jail if they can't pay their legal fees and fines on time. The problem disproportionately affects people of color, according to the Department of Justice.

Kim Malcolm talks with Seattle Times reporter Joseph O'Sullivan about his investigation into how an incorrect sentencing form shaved off community supervision time for some sex offenders in  Washington. In 2010, officials discovered the error, but the problem wasn't fixed until last January.

A group of inmates in Texas is suing the state prison system, the nation's largest, arguing that extreme heat is killing older and infirm convicts. The inmates allege it constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment" and they're asking the courts for relief.

Writer Charles Mudede at Smoke Farm.
Courtesy of Jason Evans

The 8th Smoke Farm Symposium featured talks by professor Tanya Erzen, writer and filmmaker Charles Mudede, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Ken Williford and historian and MacArthur Fellow Mott Greene.

Topics included prison reform by Erzen, global migration and citizenship by Mudede, the search for microscopic life on Mars by Williford and science history by Greene.

President Obama shortened the prison sentences of 111 inmates Tuesday, including 35 people who had expected to spend the rest of their lives in federal custody, authorities told NPR.

Execution Halted For Jeff Wood, Who Never Killed Anyone

Aug 19, 2016

From the Texas Tribune:

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has halted the execution of Jeff Wood — a man who never killed anyone — six days before he was set to die by lethal injection.

Michelle Scott, 38, has been arrested at least five times from 2000 to 2007 in Florida, according to court records. Most of her charges stem from stealing cars or some other type of theft. Since her last arrest, Scott has struggled to pull her life together. The mom of a 12-year old boy and an adult daughter, Scott, who is black, struggles with depression, and currently lives in a homeless shelter working less than 20 hours a week as a housekeeper. Because of her criminal history, stable jobs and housing are hard to come by.

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