Washington Department of Corrections

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The state of Washington has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a 29-year-old man who died by suicide in an isolation cell at the Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane in May 2014.

The settlement was announced Wednesday by the Galanda Broadman law firm in Seattle which represented the estate of Morgan Bluehorse.

Washington State Department of Corrections

Washington's Department of Corrections has agreed to improve conditions for inmates with mental illness at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Under a court-approved settlement reached last week, the agency will open a new minimum- and medium-security unit for these inmates, with the goal of reducing the amount of time they spend locked up in their cells.

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At the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, inmates with mental illness are locked down in their cells for up to 16 hours a day, even if they pose little risk. That’s one of the allegations in a lawsuit Disability Rights Washington plans to file in federal court in Spokane on Monday.

Washington Department of Corrections

Earlier this month, nearly half the inmates at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla staged a hunger strike. It ended after five days. The inmates were protesting the quality of prison food.

It’s an issue that has been simmering in Washington prisons for years.

Washington Department of Corrections

Police are investigating the apparent murder of an inmate Sunday night at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.

Washington Department of Corrections

Two Washington state inmates at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center near Aberdeen have filed a civil rights complaint in federal court over prison shaving policies.

Washington Department of Corrections

A prisoner who escaped Tuesday from a wildfire work crew in Washington state is still on the run. The Washington Department of Corrections said Maksim Petrovskiy may be in Portland.

Washington Department of Corrections

A Washington state prison inmate was accidentally held three-and-a-half years beyond his release date. The error was discovered last month. This follows the mistaken early release of nearly 3,000 Washington inmates over a 13-year period.

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Since 2011, Washington’s prison system has deported 339 convicted felons instead of locking them up. The deportations are part of a voluntary program designed to reduce prison costs.

Washington Department of Corrections

In 2014 and 2015, Washington's prison system experienced a spike in inmate suicides. During those two years 11 inmate deaths were ruled suicides, giving Washington one of the highest prison suicide rates in the country.

Richard Billings, Jr., 38
Child molestation
Sentence: 144 months

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In 2014 and 2015, Washington's prison system experienced a spike in inmate suicides. During those two years 11 inmate deaths were ruled suicides, giving Washington one of the highest prison suicide rates in the country. Austin Jenkins has spent the past year investigating how this happened and how the prison system responded.

Tony Overman / The Olympian

If you’ve ever seen the movie Con Air, you know that high-risk prison inmates are sometimes moved around the country on charter flights. It turns out the state of Washington has its own version of Con Air.

TVW

A sentencing calculation error that led to the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates over more than a decade came to light one year ago this month. And Washington’s interim Secretary of Corrections has warned a similar mistake could happen again.

Washington Department of Corrections

Washington’s only maximum security prison for women is overcrowded. That means some inmates are being housed at the Yakima County Jail. Now family members are calling on the Gov. Jay Inslee to halt those transfers.

Washington Legislature

The decision to stop calling Washington prison inmates “offenders” is not sitting well with a group of Republican state senators. They’ve written a letter to Secretary of Corrections Dick Morgan challenging the policy change.

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Washington prison inmates will no longer be called “offenders.” The Secretary of Corrections made that announcement in an all-staff message Tuesday.

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It’s been five months since Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that over a 13-year period nearly 3,000 prison inmates were accidentally released early. Wednesday, Washington Senate Republicans issued a 66-page report that places significant blame for the problem not being fixed on former corrections Secretary Bernie Warner.

Washington Department of Corrections

Officer Jayme Biendl was murdered by an inmate in the chapel at the Monroe Correctional Complex in 2011. Her death spawned a major prison safety initiative in Washington.

A state performance audit released Tuesday concluded that Washington prisons are safer five years after Biendl's murder, but safety gaps still persist that put staff at risk.

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Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that another former Washington Department of Corrections official has resigned over the accidental early release of nearly 3,000 prison inmates. Four other employees have been disciplined.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Partisan tensions are building over the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates that resulted in two deaths. Republicans held a third hearing Monday into the matter.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has released a 52-page investigative report by two former federal prosecutors, Carl Blackstone and Robert Westinghouse, into the early release of nearly 3,000 prison inmates over a 13-year period. Those releases resulted in two deaths.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The state lawyer at the center of an early release error involving Washington prison inmates has testified under oath for the first time. Two deaths are attributed to the mistake.

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The accidental early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates will be the subject of a three hour legislative hearing Monday. Meanwhile, the findings of a separate investigation ordered by Governor Jay Inslee are expected to be released this week.

Washington State Department of Corrections

A Washington state correctional officer is recovering at home after a vicious assault. The attack came almost five years to the day after another prison guard was murdered. This latest incident is renewing questions about staffing levels inside Washington’s prisons.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said an investigation into the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates should be finished soon. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans got an update from their investigator on a separate inquiry underway.

Austin Jenkins NW News Network

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the gloves off Monday and launched a full-throated attack on Senate Republicans for sacking his Secretary of Transportation in a surprise move last Friday afternoon. 

Washington Department of Corrections

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.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington prison officials have said a computer programming error led to the accidental early release of more than 3,000 inmates over 13 years. Documents obtained by public radio reveal that a decade ago sentencing calculation errors plagued a major IT upgrade.

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The Washington Department of Corrections has finished re-calculating the sentences of 1,500 inmates who were potentially released early since 2011. Of those, more than 100 must return to prison to finish their sentences.

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Working in a prison is a dangerous job. Inmates outnumber officers and fights are common. Fourteen-year veteran correctional officer Patrick McPherson said over the course of his career he’s been assaulted four or five times.

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