by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article was previously published by PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On the morning of Wednesday, June 30, Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) staff covered part of a window at the entrance of the Twin Rivers Unit (TRU) at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Snohomish County in an attempt to lower the heat inside on a day when outside temperatures peaked at 82 degrees.
But people incarcerated in the TRU say they spent the worst of the past week’s heat wave — including a high of 111 degrees in Monroe on Monday, June 28 — in sweltering cells with no air-conditioning and few chances to cool down, while prison staff had access to air-conditioned offices when temperatures rose into the triple digits.
The newly covered window, they said, was too little, too late. But few of those living in the unit are confident that prison administrators are planning ahead for another heat wave. “These are only going to get more common,” said David, a prisoner in the TRU who spoke with PubliCola on Wednesday. “And it’s pretty clear that [the DOC] won’t be prepared for the next one.” (PubliCola is using David’s first name only to reduce the risk of retaliation.)
Continue reading Sweltering Temperatures and Minimal Preparation Left State Prisoners Struggling to Cope
by Bunthay Cheam
On Wednesday, June 16, Gov. Inslee received a demand letter, signed by over 60 community organizations, calling for an end to Washington State’s ongoing collaboration with ICE. In tandem with the letter was a press conference, “A Call to Gov. Inslee to End the DOC to Deportation Pipeline.”
The letter and press conference were organized by the Liberation Not Deportation Coalition which consists of over 60 grassroots groups and individuals that organize on behalf of and by community members impacted by the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) and its partnership with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm of the Department of Homeland Security through a prison to deportation pipeline.
Continue reading Community Group Demands Govenor Inslee End Cooperation With ICE
by Guy Oron
Families of incarcerated people, advocates, and community organizers held a press conference Wednesday to shine a light on the intersecting crises of racism and COVID-19 in Washington State prisons. The press conference, organized by Seattle COVID-19 Mutual Aid and Columbia Legal Services, denounced the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) handling of the pandemic, saying its response has been inadequate, negligent, and harmful.
Continue reading Community Members Expose Harmful, Racist COVID-19 Response in Washington Prisons
by Megan Munk
As a resident of Forks, WA, I am encouraged to see that our community has been proactive in taking steps to minimize the impact of COVID-19 when it comes to our town. We closed parks, are staying at home, and made changes to our hospital and pharmacy protocols to limit contact.
But I am worried that we are not taking into account a large population that is within our community and currently incarcerated. As of May 5, 24 incarcerated people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 36 prison staff members. Only twenty incarcerated people at Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC), one of the local prisons on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula, have been tested.
Continue reading OPINION: Clallam Bay Corrections Center Increases COVID-19 Risk on West End of Olympic Peninsula
by Sharon H. Chang
At precisely noon last Thursday, under quiet blue skies, a line of cars pulled up to the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy and jolted the day awake. “Free them all! Free them all!” yelled protestors, honking their horns while maintaining a safe distance from each other. Bewildered guards stood by the prison parking lot as protestors shouted through a bullhorn, held protest signs out of car windows, and even blew a trumpet. Simultaneously, protests were also taking place in Olympia, outside the Governor’s mansion, and outside the Monroe Correctional Complex.
Continue reading We’ll Never Flatten the Curve If People Are Behind Bars
by Carolyn Bick
Every day, Dave M. works in the Washington Corrections Center kitchen. He stands right next to fellow inmates, all of whom are currently without masks, to make meals for the rest of the prison’s population. He says nothing in the kitchens have been moved or changed to make it safer for himself and his fellow kitchen workers. All the measures the Department of Corrections has announced its prisons are taking? He says they’re just for show.
Continue reading “We Know There Are Sick People in Here”: Inmates Claim DOC Measures Just for Show
by Alex Garland
After weeks of protests, the Washington Department of Corrections lifted a ban on used books that had been quietly implemented in mid-March. The ban blocked nonprofits who sent books to prisoners. The policy reversal followed an onslaught of news coverage, including a report from the Seattle Times that found that the DOC’s claims that the books were used to transport contraband were untrue.
Continue reading DOC Ended the Book Ban, but the Media Celebrated Too Soon
by Virginia Parham
Last year my son, Willie Nobles, got the chance I want for every family in Washington state. Having served 22 years in prison of a 96-year-sentence, a compassionate judge reviewed Willie’s case and said he couldn’t, in good conscience, keep him in prison.
Continue reading OPINION: Senate Bill 5819 Offers a Second Chance to Inmates