prisons

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.

King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill. Ivan wrote his essay, which was published in the Interagency Academy 2012 literary journal, from the school at the detention.
Flickr Photo/jseattle

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.

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.”

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

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.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Ross Reynolds talks with Alissa Ackerman, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Washington, Tacoma, about how private corporations that run prisons have been lobbying to increase the criminalization of immigration and what that means for the treatment of detainees.

On the list of activities for this summer camp: visiting Dad in a maximum security prison. The nonprofit group Hope House runs three camps to keep children connected with incarcerated dads who might not be close to home.

There are also plenty of arts and crafts, mosquito repellent and campfire songs.

Carol Fennelly founded Hope House in 1998, after a Washington, D.C.-area prison was closed, sending thousands of inmates to far-flung institutions. That made it difficult, and sometimes impossible, for relatives to visit.

In just a few years, Washington will need another 1,000 prison beds. There’s been talk of building a new state lock-up, but that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when the Supreme Court has said school funding must be the priority.

Washington’s prison system has announced a major policy change when it comes to inmates who harm themselves. The Department of Corrections said Thursday that it will no longer sanction inmates for cutting or other acts of self-injury.

Washington state’s prison system is projected to need 1,000 new beds by 2018. And that growth has Governor Jay Inslee concerned.

When Innocent People Go To Prison, States Pay

Jun 16, 2014

Suppose you spent five years in prison for a crime you didn't commit. How much does the government owe you?

Over the past few decades, the rise of DNA exonerations has made this a more pressing question. And many states have created explicit policies to answer it.

But those policies vary wildly from state to state.

Twenty-one states provide no money — though people who are exonerated can sue for damages. Twelve states and the District of Columbia award damages on a case-by-case basis. Another 17 states pay a fixed amount per year of imprisonment.

Pages