Tag Archives: Kitsap County jail

Crime reporter’s notebook: Police data, fingerprint scanners, weed and a pair of handcuffs

 Here are a few recent odds and ends from my reporter’s notebook:

POLICE DATABASE EXPANDS: You may remember the Kitsap Sun story about the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LinX), in which Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents were working to thread together a database of all reports gathered by local law enforcement agencies. (The effort began in a Levin Road basement.) Keep in mind that prior to 9/11, a lot of data collected by law enforcement, including field interviews, mug shots, and investigative narratives, could only be accessed only by the agency that created them.

I asked Keith Haines, LinX’s regional program manager, how it was going. He said LinX, which already encompasses most law enforcement agencies on both U.S. coasts, has begun integrating with the FBI’s “N-DEx” system, which will host a nationwide database that hopes to include all U.S. law enforcement reports.

FINGERPRINT SCANNERS: Did you know King County Sheriff’s Office is using pocket-sized fingerprint scanners to identify uncooperative and unscrupulous suspects? Regular readers of the Kitsap Sun will know these debuted in Kitsap County five years ago. The followup, by the Seattle Times, is that they’ve got more of the bugs in them worked out.

MARIJUANA ROUNDUP: As the election looms, a number of stories have appeared regarding Initiative 502 in recent weeks. Among the most interesting in my book: More than 241,000 people in Washington state were arrested for marijuana possession over the past 25 years; marijuana backers are getting some states-rights conservatives to support the measure; and a bunch of drug czars have come out against the measure, which they say violates constitutional law and could trigger a “constitutional showdown.”

HOMEOWNER CONFRONTATION: Imagine going outside your home to find someone holding your machete and chainsaw. Not only do you own them, but you wouldn’t want a stranger swinging them at you, either. Last week, a homeowner west of Long Lake had just that encounter — and he wrestled the machete away from the stranger, chased him down the road and told him to stay put until Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, reports say. Deputies said the suspect remarked that he’d “only get a criminal trespass for this.” Prosecutors have charged him with burglary.

HANDCUFFED AND RUNNING: An Alaska man was arrested Friday for trying to pass counterfeit $20s at Walmart. Poulsbo police responded and the man let them look in his wallet, where officers found six $20s with the same serial numbers. Police had handcuffed the man, who’d also violated probation and had him sit on the push bars of a patrol car. That’s when reports say the man “jumped to his feet and took off running … still in handcuffs.” An officer gave chase and tried his Taser, but missed. The suspect was ultimately tackled and taken the Kitsap County jail.

‘Spice,’ ‘K2,’ synthetic cannabis — by any name, now a felony

Kitsap County prosecutors appear to have filed the first ever charges in the county against someone for possessing synthetic marijuana. “Spice,” “K2″ and other so-called “synthetic cannabinoids” were officially banned by the state’s pharmacy board in November 2010.

Possession of substances known as “bath salts,” “plant food,” “Ivory Wave,” and “White Lightning,” are now felonies and can be punishable by up to five years in prison.

(Other authorities, I should add — the Navy, for instance — had already banned Spice.)

In early May, it appears the first person in Kitsap — a 24-year-old Poulsbo man — was charged with having Space.

“Not positive Josh,” wrote back Kevin Kelly, the deputy prosecutor who charged the case, “But it is the first time I have charged it so I think chances are good that it is.”

Here’s what happened: Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies were called to the Suquamish Clearwater Casino in the early morning hours of May 5 for the report of a man seen using a narcotics pipe. Surveillance video showed him using the pipe, which was glass and “multi-colored,” sheriff’s reports of the incident said.

While he denied having a pipe at first, a deputy saw a something in his front left pocket “weighing it down.”

The deputy said it didn’t smell like marijuana and asked the man what kind of tobacco he smoked.

“He thought for a minute and then told me that it was not tobacco but that it was ‘spice,’” deputies wrote.

In his pocket, deputies found a container that had “quality potpourri,” written on it. It was cotton candy flavor.

The man said he’d gotten it at a store in Poulsbo. He was arrested.

The deputy who drove him to jail said the Poulsbo man “was asking the same questions over and over again.”

“He seemed to be very impaired and altered,” the deputy wrote in his report.

He was booked into the Kitsap County jail for possession of the drug and charged with the same crime the next day by prosecutors.

GOOD TIME: The Jail’s Policy and the Supreme Court’s 1993 Decision

To take a look at the Kitsap County jail’s old and updated policies on earned release time, scroll below.

I have also posted the landmark ‘good time’ decision by the Washington Supreme Court that directs how Department of Corrections and the local jails work to calculate good time.

Kitsap County’s old and revised ‘good time’ policies

1993 Supreme Court Decision: In Re: Williams

GOOD TIME: ‘I Just Want It Fixed’

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.

Do Vegetarians Get Special Meals at the Jail?

The short answer is no. But there’s some explanation involved.

A woman was doing time at the Kitsap County jail for stealing a Bainbridge woman’s purse recently. She grew up vegetarian, her husband says — that is, she isn’t a vegetarian by choice, but rather her body literally rejects meat.

“It makes her violently ill because her body cannot process it,” her husband told me, adding that during her 90 day stint on the inside, she lost weight and survived on only “cake, candy, junk food and once in awhile they have steamed vegetables and a small salad.”

I made a phone call to the sheriff’s office to ask about it last week.

“We try to accomodate them as much as is practical,” said Kitsap County Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilson. “But we don’t go and get special vegetarian meals.”

Those with certain medical conditions, along with inmates whose religions mandate certain diets, do get special meals, Wilson said.

But when it comes to vegetarians, Wilson said the best they can do in jail is avoid the meat and get extra helpings of vegetables and starches.

There are some prisons and jails around the country that actually cater to vegetarian dietary needs. But Kitsap isn’t one of them.

When Does an Arrest Mean a Trip to Jail?

This week, a number of our web site’s commenters have wondered about who qualifies for a trip to the Kitsap County jail after an arrest is made.

The recent DUI arrests of both the Port Orchard mayor and a Kitsap County sheriff’s sergeant ended in both men being released, rather than getting booked into jail.

So what determines if a person is locked up after being accused of a crime?

According to Scott Wilson, Kitsap County sheriff’s spokesman, it is up to the arresting officer. Each case is different and involves its own set of facts.

There are only a few crimes — driving with a suspended license, petty theft, or DUI being most of them — in which an officer will contemplate releasing an arrested person. A person accused of a violent offense, or in which the person shows they could be a threat to themselves or others, is going to get booked.

The person might have medical issues that need to be addressed, however, and that could keep them out of jail — at least while they’re being treated. People who are dangerously intoxicated will also not be booked until they sober up.

While it may not help in avoiding a trip to jail, Wilson said the person’s cooperation never hurts toward a possible release. Being polite and respectful for a minor arrestable offense might be grounds for a release — but not necessarily. Law enforcement officers weigh the “totality of the circumstances,” Wilson said, in making that call.