Lights & Sirens

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Category: Corrections


McNeil Island passes accreditation with flying colors

Here’s the press release from the state Department of Corrections:

McNeil Island Corrections Center Passes Audit

OLYMPIA – The McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC) in Steilacoom scored 100 percent on mandatory standards and 99.3 percent on non-mandatory standards in an American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation audit that took place Jan. 26-28.

Located in Alexandria, Va., ACA is the only national organization that accredits correctional facilities.  ACA standards are considered the benchmark for the effective operation of professional correctional systems.

Prisons Director Dick Morgan said the high scores affirmed the ability of MICC employees

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McNeil Island prisoner escapes, found on ferry dock

The state Department of Corrections is investigating how an inmate at McNeil Island Corrections Center was able to escape briefly Monday.

Donald A. Dravis Jr., 43, was found on a ferry docked at McNeil Island on Monday night and was taken into custody without incident, agency spokesman Chad Lewis reported today. The ferry was later able to leave the dock.

Dravis was handcuffed and returned to the prison for a medical evaluation and detainment. He’s in segregation, Lewis said.

Officials were reviewing how Dravis was able to get out of the secure prison. He was out for

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Mackerel Economics?

This Wall Street Journal article looks at how tins of mackerel are being used as currency at some prisons now that cigarette bans are in place across much of the country.

When Larry Levine helped prepare divorce papers for a client a few years ago, he got paid in mackerel. Once the case ended, he says, “I had a stack of macks.”

Mr. Levine and his client were prisoners in California’s Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex. Like other federal inmates around the country, they found a can of mackerel — the “mack” in prison lingo —

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Update on McNeil asbestos incident

In today’s paper I had an article about McNeil Island prison being fined $28,400 for exposing inmate workers and employees to asbestos-laden dust because proper precautions weren’t taken.

I just spoke to Tom Hili, one of the certified asbestos supervisors mentioned in a Department of Labor and Industries report on the problems. He was in training and unavailable for comment at the time the story was written.

According to Hili, his involvement with the project was very minor. After the tile was ripped up, he brought a glue product to put on it to prevent the spread

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Inmates talk about having multiple religions

Here are some extended interviews with three McNeil Island inmates talking about why they have declared multiple faiths. They accompany a story in Wednesday’s paper.

Readers may remember McNeil’s chaplain, Father Tom Suss, who resigned earlier this year because a new rule allowing multiple faiths created the possibility of seemingly contradictory combinations, such as Catholic/pagan.

You can follow this link to an audio slideshow giving an overview of the story.

Arlen Lopez, Catholic/Pentacostal

Mark Misiak, Buddhist/Wiccan

Maceo “Mace” Wiles, Catholic/Protestant

The link above goes to a follow-up story about Suss’ resignation. You can read my original story after the jump.

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Ads appear to be helping recruiting campaign for jail officers

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reports that its hiring campaign that involves ads on the Pierce Transit buses and outdoor billboards appears to be working.

The outdoor ads seeking applicants for corrections officer positions started appearing last fall.

In the first quarter of 2008, the department received 636 applications. That’s up 65 percent from 397 applications received during the last quarter of 2007, the county reports.

The number of those applicants taking the required tests also have increased – going from 147 to 297 – when comparing the two time

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Community corrections officer helps keep rapist behind bars

This is an interesting tale from the Department of Corrections’ latest newsletter. Apparently, a community corrections officer was able to keep a rapist behind bars despite a string of bad luck.

The community corrections officer in Section 4 was preparing for his first hearing before the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB), trying to convince them that offender Gary Trudell should get sanction time for raping a physically disabled woman. Thurston County prosecutors wanted to charge Trudell with rape but felt they did not have enough evidence to charge him.

Cochran knew it would be a tough

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Meditation behind bars

An interesting book came across my desk – "Letters from the Dhamma Brothers" by Jenny Phillips (Pariyatti Press, 2008). It looks at a Buddhist meditation group at an Alabama prison nicknamed the "House of Pain."

I was interested in the book for a number of reasons. First is my general interest in corrections issues and the constant tension between prison as punishment and prison as reformative. Second is that the style of meditation, Vipassana, is the style of meditation I personally practice and have seen the benefits of firsthand.

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