incarceration | KUOW News and Information

incarceration

Nico Walker is in jail for robbing banks.

He can use the pay phone for 15 minutes at a time, and then he has to wait a half-hour. It took a while to do an interview.

That's also sort of the way he wrote his debut novel, Cherry — on a typewriter, with a hundred-or-so other guys looking over his shoulder.

"It was something that I was doing when I was locked up," he says. "Something to pass the time. But I didn't — I wasn't planning to write a novel, you know, autobiographical or anything like that."

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg is seeking his fourth term this November. In the 11 years he's held office, some years he’s run unopposed. But this year he’s facing a challenger from the left: public defender Daron Morris.   

A stroller was used to hold up a sign during the Solidarity Day protest outside of the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.
Daniel Berman for KUOW

Question: “I’m a new mom to a six-month-old baby, and hearing how desperately these women missed their children, and vice versa, made me feel heartbroken and ashamed of our country,” listener Kari Blankenship wrote.  

She and other KUOW listeners have been asking what they can do to help locally detained parents. 

The federal prison at SeaTac where 177 women seeking asylum have been jailed. About half of those women were taken from their children at the border. The children were between 3 and 16 years.
Daniel Berman for KUOW

Some moms held at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center were so distressed they couldn’t speak, according to attorneys who have volunteered to interview asylum seekers there. 


Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is lobbying for a bipartisan prison reform bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. The Republican made the pitch in Spokane this week.

A main corridor at the King County Juvenile Detention in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Hear about those local clergy members who chained themselves to a construction site? They were protesting a new youth detention facility.

As you read this, new cinder block walls are rising up right next door to the old facility in Seattle’s Central District. The Children and Family Justice Center, its new name, is expected to be completed in 2020. 

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.

Tera Oglesby and her son join protesters outside the construction site of King County’s new youth detention center in Seattle, where three clergy members chained themselves together around a construction beam.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A protest at the site for the new King County youth detention center apparently halted construction this morning.

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.

Growing up, Gary Kempler remembers watching flocks of bighorn sheep near his hometown of Clarkston, Washington.

“Good size herds along the river,” Kempler said — he could see up to eight flocks in one day.

Slowly, after the wildlife faced battles with a virulent form of pneumonia, Kempler saw fewer and fewer bighorns. Maybe one or two sheep at a time.

A sequence of fights that raged for more than seven hours at a South Carolina prison left seven inmates dead and at least 17 more needing "outside medical attention," the South Carolina Department of Corrections said early Monday.

The incident at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C., "involved multiple inmate on inmate altercations in three housing units," the Department of Corrections said. No prison staff were injured.

From left, Anthony Banks, Zack Larson, Chris Chase, Devin Ottesen and James Kennemer laugh while working on a job site on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, on 38th Ave East in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The Seattle area needs more housing.

There’s not enough construction workers to build all the houses we need.

Meanwhile, ex-prisoners have a hard time finding work and a place to live.

One woman and her company found a way to tackle all these problems at the same time.


Read these lyrics about regret from incarcerated youth

Feb 1, 2018
KUOW PHOTO/Lila Kitaeff

Two young men created this song at the Echo Glen Children's Center, a maximum security facility in Snoqualmie, in a series of workshops with RadioActive Youth Media. This was RadioActive's first workshop at Echo Glen.


The man was unconscious and alone when he arrived at University of Miami Hospital last summer. He was 70 years old and gravely ill.

"Originally, we were told he was intoxicated," remembers Dr. Gregory Holt, an emergency room doctor, "but he didn't wake up."

"He wasn't breathing well. He had COPD. These would all make us start to resuscitate someone," says Holt. "But the tattoo made it complicated."

A main corridor at the King County Juvenile Detention in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Updated 5:54 p.m., 12/11/2017: The King County Council on Monday signaled a commitment to jailing fewer young people.

The council told County Executive Dow Constantine to use an expert report to guide county policy for reducing youth detention.

Charles Manson, the cult leader who drew lasting infamy for directing mass killings in 1969, has died at the age of 83.

Manson had been removed from prison in Corcoran, Calif., where he had been serving nine life sentences, and placed in a nearby hospital for a serious illness. It was the second time this year the mass murderer had been hospitalized.

Former Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Deputy Executive Rhonda Berry at a press conference announcing the intent to move youth detention oversight to Public Health Seattle King County.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

King County Executive Dow Constantine is making a change he says will help the county with its effort to dramatically reduce the practice of detaining young people arrested for crimes.

Constantine signed an executive order Thursday moving oversight of youth detention to Public Health Seattle King County.

Amid the Trump administration's efforts to arrest people living in the country illegally, the Department of Homeland Security is looking at locations for five new detention centers around the country that could hold thousands of detainees.

Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington.
GoogleMaps

A federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a group of four young people currently being detained at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

The teens are charged as adults.

The seven-acre "Tent City Jail" in Phoenix that helped make former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio a household name has been quietly struck once and for all after housing inmates for nearly a quarter century.

The Arizona Republic reports that prisoners from the infamous jail, made of Korean-War-era tents to alleviate overflow from more conventional facilities, were transferred late Saturday to the nearby Durango Jail.

A detainee in solitary at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Immigration detention is a booming business in the U.S., mostly run by private, for-profit contractors. A new bill in Congress aims to phase out these private facilities, including the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

FILE: Teens at the King County Juvenile Detention
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

"You have the right to remain silent."

Most people can recite at least the first line of the Miranda warning used by police when arresting people. The warning informs suspects they don’t have to talk to the police if they don’t want to, and that they have a right to an attorney. But brain scientists say young people often lack the perspective and judgment, especially in the moment, to know what’s in their best interest.

King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/jseattle

A Washington state appeals court ruled Tuesday that King County has been improperly calculating the property taxes it’s using to fund a new courthouse and youth detention center.

It’s the latest legal ruling in the contentious battle over replacing the facility. 

Dozens of murals hang on the walls at the Northwest Detention Center. They're painted by detainees, and the designs must be approved by staff. Painting is also considered a voluntary job, and the artists are paid $1 per day for their work.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing the company that runs the immigration detention center in Tacoma.

The lawsuit claims that GEO Group, Inc., the second-largest private prison operator in the nation, has been violating the state's minimum wage law for over a decade.

One of the halls at juvenile detention in Seattle. There are 212 beds but less than a quarter of those beds are used.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The excavation work for King County’s new youth jail is done. But with the building’s foundation soon to be laid on East Alder Street, a new report calls into question how the design aligns with the county and city’s stated goals of not jailing young people at all.

King County's juvenile court and jail are located south of Capitol Hill.
Flickr Photo/jseattle

Construction has started at the new King County juvenile jail, but politicians and activists are still fighting about it.

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.

Davino Watson told the immigration officers that he was a U.S. citizen. He told jail officials that he was a U.S. citizen. He told a judge. He repeated it again and again.

There is no right to a court-appointed attorney in immigration court. Watson, who was 23 and didn't have a high school diploma when he entered ICE custody, didn't have a lawyer of his own. So he hand-wrote a letter to immigration officers, attaching his father's naturalization certificate, and kept repeating his status to anyone who would listen.

Jim Schott had one goal when he abandoned academic life to start the company called Haystack Mountain: He wanted to make some of the finest goat cheese in the country. With cheese in hand, he visited supermarkets, trying to persuade them to sell his product. Some didn't take him seriously. But Whole Foods did.

"From the very beginning, they wanted to taste it," Schott recalls. "And they wanted to know the story. They wanted to know where the cheese came from; who was making it; where it was made."

O.J. Simpson will find out on Thursday if he soon will be released from the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. He has been held there for nearly nine years for convictions on armed robbery and other charges.

The former NFL hero, TV pitchman and movie star, now 70, stands a good chance of being granted parole when he appears before the Nevada Parole Board via video link. No one has registered to testify against him. He will likely try to persuade the board of his good behavior behind bars.

If paroled, Simpson would be released from prison no sooner than Oct. 1.

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