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incarceration

File photo: Washington Corrections Center for Women
KUOW Photo/Kevin P. Casey

  A second tragedy is now linked to a Washington state prison inmate who was released before his sentence was completed due to a software error. The Department of Corrections said a 17-year-old boy was killed during a robbery in Spokane last May.

Flickr photo/Philip Cohen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Washington Department of Corrections learned in 2012 that the software it was using to calculate prisoners' time off for good behavior was letting some prisoners out too soon. A possible fix to that computer error was delayed 16 separate times, Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke said Tuesday.

A man who was released from a Washington prison early by mistake is charged with killing a mother of two when he should have still been locked up.

Flickr photo/Philip Cohen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Washington corrections officials say they've identified 27 former prison inmates who were released too soon and need to be re-arrested.

The state of Washington is rounding up former prison inmates who were accidentally released early because of a computer glitch.

As many as 3,200 Washington inmates were released early because of a computer glitch that went unfixed for 13 years.

As Washington’s prison population swells, there are renewed calls for a state prisons ombudsman. Legislation to create the position was filed Wednesday in advance of the January legislative session.

Josephine Howell of Seattle band Radio Raheem .
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Josephine Howell used to find it too painful to talk to her eldest son.

Charles is in prison on the East Coast, serving to two life sentences for second-degree murder. He was convicted at the age of 17 and has been locked up since 1999.

Howell fronts Seattle band Radio Raheem. They’ve written a new song about her son called, “Dear Charles.”

Howell told KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel that the song is a way that she attempts to express depths of her feeling in grappling with Charles’ situation.

Prison bars file photo.
Flickr Photo/Neil Conway (CC BY2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6NUT6x

Many youth become homeless when they get out of detention centers and their parents refuse or fail to pick them up.

That’s the finding of a new report that calls for reforms to the way Washington state handles young offenders.

When I first met Shaun Tullar, he was locked up in the Vista Detention Facility in San Diego County, Calif.

He was being held in what the jail calls the vets pod — a ring of cells for veterans to live together like a military unit. We met in a room that felt like a school classroom, but with military flags on the walls, and guards at the door.

The number of military veterans in the country's jails and prisons continues to drop, a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows.

It's the first government report that includes significant numbers of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the findings defy stereotypes that returning war veterans are prone to crime.

Washington prison inmates who suffer from “serious and painful medical conditions” are often denied adequate healthcare. That’s the allegation contained in a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle this week.

At least once a week, federal defender Deirdre von Dornum travels across Brooklyn to meet with her incarcerated clients. The round trip takes three hours, on a good day.

First von Dornum rides the subway. Then she walks half a mile to the Metropolitan Detention Center, a pair of nondescript high-rise buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront. At this point, she still has to wait — sometimes for hours — for guards to bring her client down from his cell.

The sagebrush ecosystem is in trouble — thanks to invasive species and wildfires, which have damaged much of the land in the West. Now, to help restore some recently burned areas, inmates from central Washington are planting sagebrush that has been grown in prisons.

The vast steppe-like landscape near Ephrata, Washington, stretches almost as far as you can see. Most of the sagebrush is pretty healthy, if not too dense. But this 240-acre patch of public land was burned last year.

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

The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world. But that’s a relatively recent development. Over the last three decades rates of incarceration in the U.S. have increased five-fold.

Currently there are about 2.2 million U.S. citizens behind bars. Race and class are major factors in who goes to prison. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 young black men will spend time behind bars. The projected rate for young white men is 1 in 22.

Washington’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island is home to 252 sex offenders. These are men -- and one woman -- who’ve completed their prison sentences but are deemed too dangerous to release.

Thousands of federal inmates were sent home Friday after their drug sentences were shortened. That includes dozens of convicts from the Northwest.

Civil rights lawyers are using a new strategy to change a common court practice that they have long argued unfairly targets the poor.

At issue is the way courts across the country sometimes issue arrest warrants for indigent people when they fall behind on paying court fees and fines owed for minor offenses like traffic tickets. Last year, an NPR investigation showed that courts in all 50 states are requiring more of these payments. Now attorneys are aggressively suing cities, police and courts, forcing reform.

Karen Taylor works to prevent youth of color from ending up in prison, as she did.
Courtesy of Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor is at a park near where she grew up in Renton. She comes here to pray and to walk. "My mother used to walk this trail," she said. "It's a nice place. Quiet. Serene."

Taylor's childhood here was anything but serene.

Retroactivity sounds like a really boring legal subject. Until you learn that some 2,000 people serving terms of life without parole could have a shot at release if the Supreme Court rules that a 2012 decision is retroactive.

Biking Behind Bars: Female Inmates Battle Weight Gain

Oct 11, 2015

The gym at Riverside Correctional Facility in Philadelphia is through the metal detector, two heavy doors and down the hall.

There's a basketball court like one you'd see at any high school, except there's a corrections officer on guard near the 3-point line.

Sixteen stationary bikes are set up in a half-circle in the corner. On bike No. 2, Lakiesha Montgomery, 32, from Philadelphia, is pedaling fast and singing along to the Nicki Minaj song "Fly."

"I didn't think I'd be able to keep up; I'm not the skinniest thing in the bunch," she says.

It's wonder enough in sharply-divided Washington that nine Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate came together this week to do anything, let alone touch the once politically charged arena of crime and punishment.

But groups as different as the ACLU and Koch Industries had joined this year in a coalition to press for change, and so too did senators as different as Iowa Republican Charles Grassley and Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin.

Mentally disabled sex offenders housed on Washington’s McNeil Island aren’t getting the treatment they deserve. And, in some cases, they’re being held in isolation.

Correctional facilities have to provide health services to people who are incarcerated, but that doesn't mean the care is free of charge. In most states, inmates may be on the hook for copayments ranging from a few dollars to as much as $100 for medical care, a recent study finds.

Washington Secretary of Corrections Bernie Warner is leaving to take a job with a private prison company.

Brian Phillips spent 71 days in solitary confinement this summer. He was locked up in the Thurston County Jail near Olympia, Washington, after he went off his psychiatric medication and had several run-ins with police.

America, by far, has the highest incarceration rate among developed nations. The rate of imprisonment in the U.S. has more than quadrupled in the last 40 years, fueled by "three strikes" and mandatory-minimum sentencing laws.

A federal judge in Seattle has made it clear to the state that mentally ill jail inmates need to be evaluated within seven days to see if they’re competent to stand trial.

A juvenile inmate crew from Naselle Youth Camp in Southwest Washington. There were 30 kids part of the fire effort until last week, when a 16-year-old broke free, assaulted one of his supervisors and stole a gun.
Courtesy of Juvenile Rehabilitation Adminstration

Crews of juvenile inmates have been sent to fight wildfires in Washington state since the 1960s.

Until a teen escaped last week, assaulted a supervisor and then shot himself, there were 20 youth working on the fire line at the Chelan Complex Fire in central Washington. Another crew of 10 made sandwiches and meals in Okanogan County.

Prison bars file photo.
Flickr Photo/Neil Conway (CC BY2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/6NUT6x

A few years ago Theresa Nolte fell in love with Kelly Beard, an inmate at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Nolte was a prison staffer.

Consensual or not, sexual contact between prison staffers and inmates is illegal.

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