prisons

Rowan Moore Gerety / NWPR

 

Over the years, local governments have turned to private companies to manage more and more of the American penal system. Sometimes prisons themselves, but also probation and drug treatment services, transportation, and phone systems. Now, add jail visitation to the list.

Until this past fall, Joel Goff had never set foot in the Lewis County Jail. Then his son was arrested.

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.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

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. So what’s the solution? Washington could release some older inmates who are serving long sentences. But lawmakers are wary of a political backlash and the state abolished parole in the 1980s. That leaves clemency as the remaining pressure-relief valve on the prison system. As Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports, that system of mercy may not be up to the task.

Ben / Flickr

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.