Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Education for inmates can be a vital part of preparing them to re-enter society successfully. Multiple studies demonstrate that individuals who receive educational opportunities while they are incarcerated are far less likely to re-offend when they return to their communities.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
A great story in the Seattle Times details the successful efforts of Seattle attorney Gabe Galanda to persuade Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) administrators to accommodate the religious rights of Native American inmates at DOC facilities around the state.
Friday, May 11, 2012
As of May 10, there is one less person on Washington’s death row. The Washington Supreme Court’s overturning of Darold Stenson’s murder conviction provides a vital lesson about the flaws of our system of capital punishment.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Isn’t it time to stop this approach to criminal justice? Don’t we have better things to spend the money on? Inspired by David Letterman, here is our list of 10 Ideas for saving money by putting fewer people in prisons and jails, and being “smart” on criminal justice instead of simply being punitive.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Over a ten year-period, more than 100,000 arrests were made in Washington state for adult marijuana crimes. The vast majority of these arrests were for low-level possession.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, July 25, 2011
Personal mail to inmates at Spokane County Jail will no longer be limited to postcards, under terms of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the publication Prison Legal News. The ACLU-WA filed a brief in the suit, explaining that the restrictive policy violated the rights of both inmates and individuals who correspond with them.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
June 2011 has the unfortunate distinction of marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" — a war which has cost $1 trillion but produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs. The war on drugs has been a war on communities of color. The racial disparities are staggering: despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than African-Americans, African-Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Earlier this month, a Louisiana judge sentenced a 35-year-old man to prison for the rest of his life—for marijuana. According to the Times-Picayune, Cornell Hood II was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute after law enforcement found approximately two pounds of marijuana and $1,600 in cash in Hood’s home. The jury convicted him of a lesser charge, but the prosecutor used Hood’s prior convictions to seek a life sentence anyway, arguing Hood was a “career criminal.” What were Hood’s prior convictions? In 2005 and 2009, he pled guilty to selling marijuana. Obviously, Hood has been making his living selling marijuana for the past half-dozen years, and selling marijuana for recreational use is still a crime in this country. But Hood’s offenses involved no violence, no damage or theft of property. He was sentenced to probation in each of his prior cases. Setting aside the question of whether jailing a person for life for marijuana can be ethically justified, let’s look at whether it’s smart.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has released its proposed budget through fiscal year 2012. It requests $26.2 billion to “reduce drug use and its consequences” in the United States, representing an increase of $322.6 million, or 1.2%, over the 2010 budget.  Once again, however, ONDCP is emphasizing the importance of treatment and prevention while spending the majority of it's money on conventional law enforcement programs. As this blog has pointed out previously, approximately 60% of the budget goes to law enforcement and only 40% to treatment and prevention.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Let’s take truancy out of the top five reasons that girls in Washington state are locked up each year. According to the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee’s 2009 Annual Report, truancy was among the leading reasons for detention of girls. Statistics are not posted yet for 2010. There appears to be some good news in the same chart: in 2006, 2007 and 2008, more than 700 girls were locked up each year for truancy; in 2009, the chart shows “only” 273 were locked up for truancy.  The bad news is that 273 were locked up in 2009 for truancy. And Washington law still allows incarceration as a consequence for kids who miss school without excuse in violation of a court’s order telling them that, as the law says, they have to go to school. Others are locked up if they miss a court hearing in a truancy case.