Washington is starting to bring back some of the inmates that it sent to out-of-state prisons because of overcrowding here at home, reports the Tacoma News Tribune. The first group of 61 was brought back in late June so they could begin to transition out of the prison system entirely, said Jim Thatcher of the state Department of Corrections. Washington has been sending inmates out of the state for nearly six years, and many of those returnees have been gone that long. There are 1,076 Washington inmates still incarcerated at four privately run prisons in Minnesota, Arizona and Oklahoma.
Thatcher said he doesn't expect to have to send any additional inmates out of state. More will return in early 2009 as the state begins to open 2,150 new prison beds at the Coyote Ridge prison in Eastern Washington. All out-of-state inmates are expected to be back in Washington by the end of 2009, he said. That will be welcome news for families of inmates who have been sent out of state. Many of them have complained about the difficulty of visiting their incarcerated relatives, and out-of-state placement sometimes disrupts classes and prison jobs.