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AUSTIN, Texas — When an unusually heavy winter storm blanketed much of Texas with snow, knocking out electricity to millions of homes and leaving many struggling to find clean water, one sector of the population was particularly vulnerable: inmates at the state’s largest county jail.
A group of inmates at Idaho’s largest prison is suing the state for overcrowding, saying cell blocks are so packed that the prison department can’t maintain sanitary toilets, putting them at risk during the coronavirus outbreak.
Idaho Department of Correction officials said they have moved another 150 inmates to a prison in Texas because there aren’t enough prison beds in Idaho.
As many as 1,000 Idaho inmates could soon be serving out their time in out-of-state prisons as the state grapples with overcrowding at home.
The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a series of regulations to reduce overcrowding and unruly behavior in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest.
Seven years after the American Civil Liberties Union sued over overcrowding and other conditions, the Canyon County Jail is no longer required to have federal oversight.
Spokane Public Schools needs about 120 classrooms to meet the new class size requirements while Central Valley School District needs 42 classrooms and West Valley School District needs 11.
Spokane County has been rewarded for its efforts at criminal justice reform, with the deep-pocketed MacArthur Foundation selecting the area for a competitive grant to reduce overcrowding at the aging jail. Spokane is one of 20 recipients nationwide of a $150,000 grant through the foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge program, aimed at reducing overcrowding in local jails. Jackie Van Wormer, a Washington State University professor who is heading the county’s Law and Justice Council, said the award is a testament to the work being done to reform the region’s system.
Crime is down, but prison attendance is up. Washington leaders want to find out why, because the current trend costs the state a lot of money without necessarily making it safer. If no changes are made, the state will need 1,000 more beds in the next four years. Prisons already are operating at 2 percent over capacity. In the next decade, projected capital needs range from $387 million to $481 million, according to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.
Far more people are being sent to jail than necessary in Spokane, according to a community coalition for criminal justice reform. Smart Justice Spokane wants to divert more low-level offenders into programs that will help them get out of trouble and build productive lives.
Central Valley School District voters turned down a $69.6 million construction bond last month. Now, the district is taking a look at why the bond failed and what to do with overcrowded schools on the east side of the district. Superintendent Ben Small made a recommendation to the school board Monday and took suggestions from board members as well.
A 555-unit West Plains housing development may proceed despite the Cheney School District’s protest that it lacks money to educate the children who will live there. Spokane County Hearing Examiner Michael Dempsey said in a Jan. 30 ruling that the school district failed to provide enough information to support its request for “mitigation fees” from owners and developers of the proposed Aspen Park subdivision.
BOISE – Idaho's prison population is getting more violent as gangs extend their reach throughout the prison system. "We are having many, many incidents with our gang members," said Pam Sonnen, chief of prisons for the state Department of Correction. "Eighty-three percent of all violence is attributed now to gang activity."