Eye On Olympia

Inmate releases: Relief for Spokane and Pierce County at last?

The state Department of Corrections has released its much-awaited "preliminary list" of counties that aren't getting their share of work-release prisoners, or, in DOC's wording, that "have an unmet need for additional work-release facilities."

The counties, or groups of counties, are:
-Chelan/Douglas/Kittitas
-Clark/Skamania
-Grays Harbor/Mason
-Lewis
-Snohomish

The list stems from a DOC comparison of local crimes and parolees to the number of work-release beds in each county. State lawmakers, unhappy with the fact that Spokane and Pierce County had a far larger proportion of work-release inmates than was merited by their population and crime statistics, passed a law this spring requiring the department to make "substantial efforts to equitably distribute" future work-release and community-based correctional facilities.

"Equitable distribution means making sure that former offenders are not concentrated in particular parts of the state, but are given opportunities to succeed in their home communities," the DOC said in a statement accompanying its list.

Over the next decade, Washington plans to double its current 670 beds for work-release inmates. Those beds are now at 15 facilities in Spokane, Pierce, King, Clark, Benton, Yakima, King, Whatcom, Thurston and Cowlitz counties.




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