Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU

Growing up and finding ways to fit in can be hard for any kid, but it gets tougher when your mom or dad, sometimes both, are behind bars. Children who have an incarcerated parent tend to keep it a secret, which is a big burden.

That’s where Kids United by Incarceration comes in. It’s a summer camp for kids with a parent in prison, located in the Tahuya State Forest on the Hood Canal.

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.

Inmates challenging their confinement in special prison units where their communications are monitored non-stop will get one more chance to revive their case against the Federal Bureau of Prisons Tuesday.

Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights will try to convince a three-judge panel that placement in a "Communication Management Unit" represents a "fundamental disruption" to their clients' liberty interests, a fate far more troublesome and stigmatizing than the typical response to inmates who misbehave.

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.

Washington is unlikely to meet a January deadline to provide jail inmates with court-ordered mental health services within seven days.

Washington’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island is home to 252 sex offenders. These are men -- and one woman -- who’ve completed their prison sentences but are deemed too dangerous to release.

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.