– Remember –
Inmates were not grown inside a jail or prison—
they were grown in communities.
Spokane County Correction Facilities
Airway Heights Correctional ( men only)
Minimum Security Unit ( 600 men)
Medium Security Unit (1500 men)
Brownstone Work Release (Pre-release for 80 men.)
Eleanor Chase Work Release (Pre-release for 40 women)
Geiger Corrections Facility (men and women)
(County Jail extension)
Spokane County Jail (600 inmates)
Spokane Residential Re-entry Centers (70 men and women)
- A person who serves a jail or prison term has satisfied the laws of the land, and paid the debt of justice; but, such compliance does not usually transform a criminal into a law-abiding citizen. The heavy hand of justice does not change or soften or rehabilitate or reform. Justice is external - change is internal. It is relationships which bring about change - relationships with friends, teachers, family, and God. A person must have an internal desire to change, which will bring about a change of heart and behavior, changing a life.
- Most criminals (men, women and youth) have a trauma history—most were victims of abuse long before they became felons themselves.
- Spokane’s Problem: Our facilities are overcrowded, our crime rate is growing, our court system is overloaded, and there isn’t enough manpower or money to keep up with this problem. There is a great need for the Spokane community to get involved.
- The Inmates’ Problem: Released offenders are set up to fail. Half of these felons have mental illness which contributed to their incarceration. More than half have drug or alcohol problems, so they search for a shelter where they not only find food, but drugs.
“Inmates are routinely released with a small $40 check and a bus ticket, no ID, the clothes on their back and a cardboard box with their stuff from prison. They don’t have job skills, and don’t have money. They are hungry, and there are drugs at all the shelters. Offenders are set up to fail.” (Leah Zengage, Exec. Dir. of Washington Chapter of Justiceworks, a nonprofit advocacy group for prisoners and their families)
Returning to the scene of the crime. Prior to 2007, all inmates in Spokane County were released within Spokane. In 2007, our Governor passed a new law which requires that felons be returned to the county where they were charged with their felony crime—which law works against rehabilitation for most ex-convicts. Returning to the home, people, conditions, circumstances, friends, places, and other things associated with previous crimes, will constantly remind an offender of old memories and surround him with the same temptations. Even if the offender chooses not to approach old acquaintances, his friends will seek him out. Offenders must be helped to abandon their past in order to build a new life.
Relatively few of those in prison will be there for the remainder of their lives. A key question is, “What kind of people do we want to return from prison into the Spokane community, to be our neighbors?”
- The recidivism rate is a term used to describe the frequency by which felons who are released from prison, commit another crime and are sent back to prison. These people are a drain on taxpayer money and a threat to public safety.
- We are using our jails and prisons as drop-off places for mentally sick people. This contributes to recidivism, because these inmates are not separated and treated accordingly. (Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich)
- 42% of new prisoners have been in prison before. The true measure of public protection is what the individual does after release—whether the public has become vulnerable again.
- Spokane releases over 1,000 inmates each year, many of which have no job, no home, and no money.
- Local jails release roughly 280 people to the streets of Spokane every week. Approximately 40% of those released weekly are either homeless or at-risk of homelessness and more than 60% have no connection to supportive services.
- The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
“America imprisons 693 inmates per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly 5 times the world’s average…The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. About one in every 31 adults in this country is in jail or on supervised release. Either we are the most evil people on earth, or we are doing something very wrong.” (Source: Prison Policy Initiative/prisonpolicy.org; "What’s Wrong With Our Prisons?" by Senator Jim Webb, Parade Magazine, Sunday, March 29, 2009)
- One in every 99 American adults is locked up behind bars. 2.3 million American adults are locked up in prison. (February 2008)
- 7 million Americans are in prison, on parole, or on probation, mainly because of a dramatic increase in drug arrests. (Justice Department, Nov. 2006) Washington spends about $27,000 to house each prisoner each year. When our state prisons are overflowing with inmates, we are forced to pay other states to house some of our inmates.
- About 8,000 incarcerated individuals will return to Washington State communities in 2017. (King County Library staff)
- The average length of incarceration is less than 2 years, and 97% will eventually be released back into the community. About half of our prison inmates are back behind bars within 5 years. Currently, there are approximately 40,000 offenders under some form of probation; 10,000 live in Eastern Washington; and over 3,000 are in Spokane County.
- In the early 1970s, there were 250,000 inmates in the U.S.; today, there are 2,400,000, an increase of over 800%. (Source: Associated Press/ap.org)
- 95% of all prisoners are eventually released, and 2 out of 3 will go back to prison. More than 650,000 individuals return to society from federal and state prison each year. (Source: prisonfellowship.org)