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incarceration

Curtis Carroll discovered the stock market in prison. Through friends and family on the outside, he invests from San Quentin State Prison in Northern California, and he's also an informal financial adviser to fellow inmates and correctional officers. Everyone in prison calls him Wall Street.

"I couldn't believe that this kind of access to this type of money could be accessible to anybody. Everybody should do it. And it's legal!" he says.

Color Guard: Michael Jefferies (front), James Bell, Randy Roth, Chadwick Kallebaugh, Andrew Wood (closest to camera).Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Every morning the flags at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington, are raised in a color guard ceremony.

The 10 men who do the job are inmates and veterans. 

The state of Washington is on a hiring spree for forensic psychologists. They’re needed to help address a backlog of mentally ill jail inmates whose competency to stand trial is in question.

The case of Sandra Bland has raised anger and suspicions nationwide since she was found dead in a jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, two weeks ago. Bland's family and supporters have rejected the medical examiner's finding of suicide, and the criminal district attorney for Waller County, Texas, says he's recruited two outside lawyers to assist in the investigation of her death. The local investigation has been reviewed by the FBI, and local prosecutors have pledged to bring the case to a grand jury next month.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

In a prison-break likely to draw comparisons to the film The Shawshank Redemption, two convicted murderers have escaped from a maximum-security facility in upstate New York by cutting through steel walls, shimmying through a steam pipe and emerging from a manhole on the outside.

Inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat broke out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border, early Saturday morning.

Prosecutors usually spend their energy putting criminals behind bars, not urging their release. But racial disparities in the system and the huge costs of locking up so many people are pushing some government officials to call for a new approach.

One of them is the woman who now runs day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Sally Yates says she's hardly soft on crime: "I'm a career prosecutor."

In Norway, A Prison Built On Second Chances

May 31, 2015

The first thing you notice when you enter the grounds of Halden Prison in Norway's far southeast is the forest: Pine and birch trees surround buildings of dark black brick with elegant windows. There's no concrete exercise yard here; it looks like a university campus.

Are Hoidal, the prison governor, smiles at the incredulous reaction of visitors. The effect of the prison design was intentional.

The Washington state Department of Corrections has contracted with The GEO Group, Inc, a Florida-based private prison company, to house up to 1,000 prisoners in Michigan to ease overcrowding.

The Youth Services Center on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
Howard S. Wright/King County

The county is proceeding with its plans to develop a new family justice center, despite ongoing protests. 

The building includes a juvenile detention center, and that’s upset a lot of people who say we shouldn’t be locking up kids, a disproportionate number of whom are African American. Criticisms by protesters have inspired the county to try to reform the system.

Ross Reynolds interviews Alison Holcomb, head of an initiative from ACLU to reduce the number of people incarcerated in the U.S. by half. 

Nationally, there’s a push to outlaw incarceration of students for skipping school and other non-criminal behavior and use alternatives.

But some judges are reluctant to give detention up.

School districts in Washington are required to file a truancy petition with juvenile court when a student is chronically absent. Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge David Edwards believes detention is one way to get a kid who’s not following court orders back on track.

'I think you need a tune-up'

The first time a judge sent Marquise-Unique Travon Flynn to juvenile detention he was in fifth grade. He had one goal: not to cry in front of the other kids in the courtroom.

Skipping school is not a crime in Washington state, but it can still land a student behind bars.

Seattle's city hall was a mishmash of additions, including a basement where some prisoners were sent and brutally treated, fed a minimal diet of bread and water.
Seattle.gov

Little surprises Knute Berger, writer and local historian, when it comes to Seattle history.

So when he discovered that Seattle had used chain gangs – ball and chain style – into the 1900s, he thought, “Chain gangs? That’s a Southern thing.”

blind justice law court
Flickr Photo/Scott* (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks with  Susan Craighead, King County Superior Court presiding judge, about why she's pushing to eliminate racial disparities in King County's juvenile justice system.

Flickr Photo/Still Burning (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1Svg0qt

Ross Reynolds speaks with Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, about bipartisan legislation being considered in Olympia this week. House Bill 1885 and its companion Senate Bill 5775 aim to reduce Washington state's high property crime rate by, in part, reducing jail time for burglars and thieves. The proposal is backed by extensive data and research from The Council of State Governments Justice Center

The American corrections system been outsourcing some of its services – health care, food, telephone and money transfers are some examples of services that are helping for-profit prisons try to increase their profits by cutting costs.

In some cases, this adds an extra burden to inmates and their families by adding extra costs. Reporter Rowan Moore Gerety looks at a jail in Washington state that has brought in something new: paying for web video visits.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The Metropolitan King County Council approved an agreement with a developer Monday to build a new juvenile detention center near Yesler Terrace. Civil rights advocates gave four hours of public testimony against the project. 

At the juvenile detention facility in King County, Washington, strip searches are common practice at intake for serious and violent offenders or those accused of a drug crime.

King County Jail in downtown Seattle.
King County Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is protesting a new King County policy to release more felony suspects after booking them. King County says it’s a budget decision involving nonviolent offenders. The mayor says it’s a threat to public safety.

Every week, Dr. Michael Poshkus visits the John J. Moran Medium Security prison in Cranston, R.I., to see patients infected with hepatitis C.

Until recently, their only treatment option was a weekly injection in the stomach for at least a year. It worked less than half the time and caused debilitating side effects. But everything has changed.

It seems long ago now, but in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, murders and robberies exploded as cocaine and other illegal drugs ravaged American cities.

Then came June 19, 1986, when the overdose of a college athlete sent the nation into shock just days after the NBA draft. Basketball star Len Bias could have been anybody's brother or son.

Congress swiftly responded by passing tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. Those sentences, still in place, pack federal prisons to this day. More than half of the 219,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug offenses.

The work of rearing threatened plants and animals for restoration to the wild takes time and patience and it is labor intensive. In Oregon and Washington, a growing population doing that work is inmates.

Two Washington prison inmates have committed suicide in recent weeks at the state’s main intake facility in Shelton.

One of the halls at juvenile detention in Seattle. There are 212 beds but less than a quarter of those beds are used.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

It’s April now, and I’m wondering how it came down to this, and how I stooped this low, and how I am in here because of these so-called friends.

We just got back from school, and soon it will be lunchtime. We walk over to G-unit, and I walk straight up the stairs to my room while others stand around wasting time talking to Officer Rob, annoying him.

Rob is the guard assigned to our unit. He’s younger than the others and kinder too. He sings R&B songs to himself throughout the day and he doesn’t send us to our rooms for little things.

In a growing number of Northwest prisons, inmates are rearing endangered plants, butterflies, turtles and frogs for release in the wild.

Amy Czerwinski

Prison is no place to be vulnerable. For inmates with intellectual disabilities, autism or traumatic brain injury, it can be dangerous.

Flickr Photo/Still Burning (CC-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1Svg0qt

Ross Reynolds talks with Margaret Noonan, statistician for the Department of Justice, about why the death rate at the Snohomish County Jail is high, but unsurprising.

KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Marcie Sillman talks with Marshall Clement, director of state initiatives at the Council of State Government's Justice Center, about his ongoing report on the state of Washington's prisons.

Marcie Sillman talks with Jorge Baron, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, about why Washington counties are not detaining immigrants per the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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