PNS Daily Newscast - May 29, 2020 

More than a dozen Internal Affairs complaints against the Minneapolis Police officer involved in the death of George Floyd; we report on what's behind the current tensions.

2020Talks - May 29, 2020 

Republican Voters Against Trump just launched and plans to spend $10 million on the 2020 campaign. And President Trump signed an executive order making social media companies liable for content their users post.

Do WA Prisons Need an Ombudsman?

May 21, 2007

Human rights groups will meet this week to take the next steps toward a goal that has been elusive so far -- getting a state ombudsman for the Washington Department of Corrections. The idea was proposed in this year's legislature, but did not make it out of committee. A national bipartisan Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons says prison systems should be subject to the same public oversight as other state agencies, and this week's brainstorming session will explore possibilities for doing that. Lea Zengage of the group Justice Works says it's important to monitor prison conditions because there are almost 9,000 people in Washington who are released every year.

“How people are treated while they're there really makes a difference because they're gonna be your neighbors next week, next month, next year.”

Opponents of an independent ombudsman argue that attorneys, and the current grievance process for prisoners, are sufficient to report problems.

Zengage notes that although people in Washington prisons have at least one avenue for complaints, it's not the same as the independent oversight that an ombudsman would bring.

“Well, right now they do have a grievance process, but guess who manages and makes all the decisions about every step within the grievance process? Only the Department of Corrections.”

Zengage would also like to see the state do more to make prison time productive with education, counseling and job training to keep people out of the system once they're released.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA