Criminal Justice

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.

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