Criminal Justice

The practice of automatically charging 16 and 17-year-olds as adults for serious crimes is coming under scrutiny. The issue will come up Monday at a youth justice conference in Seattle and Tuesday during a Washington Supreme Court hearing.

Head Of Washington State Prisons Resigns

Feb 6, 2016

Washington Secretary of Corrections Dan Pacholke has resigned his position after less than four months in the job. His unexpected announcement Saturday came just one day after the Republican-led Washington Senate voted not to confirm Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson resulting in her immediate departure from that agency.

A Washington prison inmate who was accidentally released early and then locked back up has been granted a rare medical furlough. Bobby Davis said his re-release from prison this week came as a welcome surprise.

Philip Cohen / Flickr

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 on Tuesday.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

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.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

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. The state is supposed to offer treatment to all of them so they can have the chance to get out. But advocates say a group of disabled residents are languishing in unconstitutional conditions that give them little hope of ever leaving the island.

After years of drug addiction, Jayne Fuentes feels she's close to getting her life back on track, as long as she doesn't get arrested again — but not for using drugs. She fears it will be because she still owes court fines and fees, including hundreds of dollars for her public defender.

Fuentes hopes to change that. She's one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, charging that Benton County, Wash., where she lives, "operates a modern-day debtors' prison."

United States Court District of Idaho

The national organization that brought the case against the City of Boise over its homeless laws is considering its next move. This week, a U.S. District judge dismissed the 2009 case on the grounds that the plaintiffs don’t have standing to bring the lawsuit against the city.

Governor Kate Brown announced Friday that she’s forming a workgroup to look into the Oregon State Police Crime lab. That’s alongside investigations by Oregon’s Department of Justice and the Deschutes County District Attorney, which are looking at a state employee’s mishandling of crime evidence.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

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.

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.

The Washington state Department of Corrections recently signed a contract with the GEO Group to send up to 1000 inmates to Michigan.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Starting in July, adults in Oregon can legally use recreational marijuana. But thousands of Oregonians will still have criminal records for marijuana offenses that would have been legal under the new law. Now, there are efforts in the Oregon legislature to let some people wipe the slate clean when it comes to pot convictions. Chris Lehman spoke to some who are involved.

Mentally ill inmates in Washington state often must wait weeks, or even months in jail for evaluations to see if they’re competent to stand trial.

Whitman County Sheriff's Office

Police still have not determined a motive for the shootings in Moscow Saturday that left three dead and one injured. One reason motives remain unclear is that Moscow police have not been able to question suspected shooter John Lee. Why? Lee is in custody… just not in Moscow.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

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.

Captain Chad Naugle / ODOC

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

thierry ehrmann / Flickr

Washington’s Supreme Court may have just made it easier for prison inmates to try to get their convictions overturned through DNA testing. In a 6-to-3 ruling Thursday, the high court said inmates don’t have to show they’re likely innocent in order to win a post-conviction DNA test.

Kootenai County Sheriff's Office

A north Idaho teenager accused of killing his father and brother is no longer being held in solitary confinement at an adult county jail.

Cacophony / Wikimedia

If you happen to get arrested over the weekend in Washington, your right to a bail bondsman has just been upheld by the state Supreme Court.

Rachael McDonald / KLCC

The saga involving an Ashland-based Islamic Charity and its former head has finally come to a close. The U.S. Attorney for Oregon has dismissed criminal charges against Pete Seda in return for a guilty plea to tax fraud.

Chris Miller / Flickr

The ACLU of Idaho has joined the fight to move an accused teenage killer out of solitary confinement and back into juvenile detention. Eldon Samuel III has spent nearly three months locked in a medical holding cell in an adult county jail.

Inslee Launches Review Of Prison Population Growth

Jun 24, 2014
Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington’s prison system is projected to need 1,000 new beds by 2018. That growth has Governor Jay Inslee concerned. The Democrat Tuesday announced a Department of Justice-backed review of the state’s criminal justice system. The goal is to look for ways to save money without jeopardizing public safety.

West Albany High School students are praising one of their classmates as a hero. Truman Templeton sounded the alarm that a fellow student was plotting what officials call "mass murder" at his high school. Seventeen-year-old Grant Acord is being held on $2 million bail after his initial court appearance Tuesday. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee is demanding a renewed crackdown on drunk drivers. This after recent tragedies in the Seattle area.

The Democrat Tuesday called for more DUI patrols, more resources for prosecutors and stricter rules for ignition interlock devices.

“We've got to understand a drinking driver is just as dangerous as someone out there with a bomb in their car because that’s what they are," the governor said. "They’re rolling time bombs and that’s why I believe we need to be much more aggressive.”

SALEM, Ore. - Survivors of childhood sex abuse are lobbying in Salem to eliminate the time limit to press charges against their perpetrators. A committee held a hearing on a new bill Monday.

Letty Merritt, with the group OAASIS, is an advocate for sex abuse survivors. She says she was abused by four male relatives when she was younger. It wasn’t until her mid-30s, after years of therapy that she was finally able to speak out and press charges against her abusers. But Oregon’s criminal statute of limitations expires when victims like Merritt turn 30.

U.S. Justice Department

A Seattle man received an eighteen-year prison sentence on terrorism charges on Monday. He was convicted of plotting to attack a military installation in Seattle. KUOW’s John Ryan reports from Seattle.

Amanda Knox To Face Second Murder Trial

Mar 26, 2013

Seattle native and University of Washington student Amanda Knox will stand trial in Italy for murder – again.

Washington State high court justices have brushed aside a long list of legal objections raised by Spokane multiple murderer Robert Yates in his effort to escape the death penalty. Spokane Public Radio's Tom Bacon reports.

Portland Employee Faces Terrorism Charge

Mar 6, 2013

Portland city employee Reaz Qadir Khan was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to provide "material support" to terrorists.  As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, the US Department of Justice alleges he helped a terrorist plan a deadly suicide attack in Lahore, Pakistan in 2009.

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