jail inmates

Thomas Hawk / Flickr - tinyurl.com/ha5h3wp

Washington jails are old, crowded and holding people who are disabled, mentally ill and often haven’t yet been convicted of a crime. County jails are often the first stop for people who enter the criminal justice system.

Scott Matsuda / Red Fish Blue Fish Photography

On a gray, rainy afternoon a man walks into a library and shows a missing-person flyer to a librarian. It’s in a day’s work for a foster child “locator” whose job is to find kids who’ve run away.

On a Tuesday morning a pair of brothers cry in court and say goodbye to their mother as they are sent to juvenile detention for skipping school--a phenomenon in which Washington state leads the country.

With a coffee cup in her hand, a woman visits the jail where her brain-injured son has been held for 57 days, asking through a bulletproof window about his medication.

Angela Nguyen / Northwest News Network

In 2015 a federal judge in Seattle ruled that the state of Washington was violating the constitutional rights of mentally ill jail inmates by not evaluating and treating them quickly enough so they could stand trial. The day before that ruling Evon Bercier's 32-year-old son Shawn was locked up in the Spokane County Jail.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr - tinyurl.com/ha5h3wp

As Washington’s prison population swells, there are renewed calls for a state prisons ombudsman. Legislation to create the position was filed Wednesday in advance of the January legislative session.

Washington State Department of Corrections

Washington prison inmates who suffer from “serious and painful medical conditions” are often denied adequate healthcare. That’s the allegation contained in a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle this week.

Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

The state of Washington is under a federal court order to address the issue of mentally ill inmates languishing in jail. But the problem has actually gotten worse, not better.