Prisons

Researchers say the economic benefits of prisons often don't materialize for rural communities. That's according to a new paper by Northwest sociologists. In fact, they found communities with private prisons fare worse than they did before.

Washington State University sociologist Gregory Hook says rural areas that opt to build prisons, even courting them with tax breaks, have one main goal in mind: jobs.

“You know, you look across the way and you say 'Oh there's a prison. Fifty people have a job there. So that's 50 new jobs in my community.' … Only it's not.”

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The Larch Corrections Center near Yacolt is testing how pet cats may soften the behavior of hardened criminals.

Two cats were given to inmates in two cells at the minimum-security prison.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

SHELTON, Wash. – The recent murder trial in Seattle of Isaiah Kalebu made headlines for the brutality of his crime – the rape and butcher knife attack of two women in their home that left one of them dead.

But the trial also attracted attention because of Kalebu’s volatile outbursts in court and suicide attempts. Now he’s headed to prison – for life.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The state Department of Corrections is changing some of its procedures in response to the killing of a female guard at the Monroe prison last weekend.

Jayme Biendl was found strangled in the prison's chapel last Saturday night. An inmate has been arrested in the killing.

Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail said Friday that prisons will immediately:

  • begin counting staff members whenever an offender is missing;
  • officers will begin regular check-ins on guards who serve at duty posts alone;
  • conduct drills on the use of silent alarms on the hand-held radios that guards carry.

McNeil Island
Austin Jenkins / KPLU

Washington's oldest prison will close by April 1st, a casualty of the state's current budget crisis. McNeil Island Corrections Center's 500 inmates will be moved to other facilities. Some of the 245 employees will be reassigned, while others stand to lose their jobs.