Local news

Whitman jail is temporary home for career criminal

PULLMAN – Eddie Ray Hall, one of Spokane’s most notorious criminals, has a new temporary home: the Whitman County Jail.

The U.S. Marshals Service pays the jail $60 a day to house Hall as he awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to distributing methamphetamine. Hall has been convicted more than 20 times and has escaped from a Yakima County corrections center.

Housing federal prisoners like Hall brings in an additional $9,000 a month, or more than $100,000 a year, to the Whitman County Jail.

Federal prisoners tend to prefer the Colfax lockup, said Capt. Robert Ingalls of the Whitman County Jail.

“The prisoners are only locked down at night instead of the 23 hours a day they would be in a federal prison,” Ingalls said.

The jail signed a contract with the Marshals Service in October 2009 in order to generate some extra money and relieve budget pressures, Ingalls said.

It houses an average of five federal prisoners a month, all awaiting trial or sentencing, most of whom are involved in drug cases.

“We never know how long the prisoners are going to stay,” Ingalls said. “It could be a couple months. It could be six months.”

The U.S. Marshals Service has a similar contract with Spokane County Jail, said Deputy Beatrice Bravo of the service’s Eastern Washington district. Marshals transport criminals to and from the jails to court dates and inspect the jails yearly.

The Murrow News Service provides local, regional and statewide stories reported and written by journalism students at Washington State University.

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