Mail from inmates at county jails and state and federal prisons is common in newsrooms, as those on the inside look to reporters to help with legal battles or civil rights violations.
The same is true here at the Kitsap Sun. We review such mail — honestly, word for word — to see if there’s an injustice being done, however big or small. In many cases, the complaints don’t quite add up. In some, a quick phone call or email to the right person is all that’s needed. But sometimes, an inmate raises a concern that calls on us to tell a story.
In May, I got such a letter. His name was Robert “Doug” Pierce, who you can read about in Sunday’s paper or online here. The Kitsap County jail had miscalculated his time off for good behavior — and he was right.
“I just want it fixed so I can come home to my family after my debt is paid to society in full,” Pierce wrote in his letter.
Pierce’s discovery was not only overlooked at the jail and lawyers in the system but at the Department of Corrections — and it set the stage for a change in policy at the Kitsap County jail.
In doing the story, I wanted to examine all aspects of how good time is awarded. Thus, what you’ll find is an explanation of how it works at all levels — federal, state and each of the 39 county jails — and why it is administered in the first place. That included working with and submitting records requests to each of the state’s 37 jails.
We also stumbled upon another interesting facet: that the state’s sunseting of a 50 percent off provision for good time went virtually unnoticed by anyone outside the system.
For the results of our work, click here.