Department of Corrections

‘Unexpected’ deaths are up in Washington’s prisons

BY: - December 4, 2023

At least 29 people died unexpectedly in Washington’s state prisons from July 2022 to June 2023, according to a new state report.  That means deaths are up from the last reporting period, when the state Department of Corrections identified 11 unexpected deaths in its prisons.  The recent review, released by Washington’s Office of the Corrections […]

Judge gives OK for state to move ahead with prison closure

BY: - October 9, 2023

Larch Corrections Center in southwest Washington will close Tuesday, despite a last ditch effort by the union representing correctional employees to keep the minimum security state prison open until a round of labor negotiations wraps up. Teamsters Local 117 sued the Department of Corrections last month over what they say were multiple violations of fair […]

Volunteer wildfire firefighters at a wildfire training course. Two people walk towards a fire burning. Most of the photo is smoke.

WA prisoners struggle with wildfire smoke as ventilation upgrades go unfunded

BY: - September 25, 2023

When the wildfire smoke arrives, Harry Whitman has nowhere to go.  “When there’s smoke or there’s a fire, they lock you in,” Whitman said.  Whitman, president of the advocacy group Black Prisoners’ Caucus, is incarcerated at Airway Heights Corrections Center. The prison is located less than 10 miles away from Medical Lake, Washington, where Gray […]

Workers sue WA Department of Corrections over Larch closure

BY: - September 14, 2023

The union representing state correctional employees is asking a court to halt the closure of Larch Corrections Center in southwest Washington, claiming the Department of Corrections violated a number of labor practices ahead of its decision to shutter the facility. Teamsters Local 117 filed its complaint Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court, alleging Corrections refused […]

‘Blindsided’ by a Washington prison closure

BY: - August 28, 2023

When the state Department of Corrections said in June it would close Larch Corrections Center by October, workers, prisoners, and lawmakers were all among those caught off guard.  Before the announcement, the minimum security prison in Yacolt – about 20 miles northeast of Vancouver, Washington – housed almost 240 incarcerated people. As of Aug. 21, […]

Stifling prison heat used to be just a Southern problem. Not anymore.

BY: - August 14, 2023

While sweltering heat in prisons without air conditioning has long been an issue in the South, extreme heat waves worsened by climate change are expanding the problem into Northern states. In recent years, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin have seen extreme heat in prisons. Many of these states lack the necessary infrastructure for […]

Prison inquiry finds two men left in cells amid growing squalor

BY: - June 30, 2023

A “systemic breakdown of responsibility” allowed an individual incarcerated at Monroe Correctional Complex to stay in his cell for months amid growing piles of garbage and a stench from what appeared to be vomit smeared on cell walls, according to results of a special inquiry released Friday. He had not left his cell in five […]