If you cover crime for any length of time the trail eventually leads to a courtroom. That’s where you learn, often in excruciating detail, about the awful ways people hurt one another. It is never a happy moment when somebody convicted of murder, rape or some other form of human cruelty shuffles off in shackles to start serving their time. Still, it brings with it a certain relief. Out of sight. Out of mind.
Sometimes I find myself wondering where particularly nasty offenders are locked away. The state Department of Corrections makes it easy to keep track.
Here is where you go to find an offender in Washington’s prison system. All you need is the person’s last name and you can learn if they are still locked up and where they are serving time.
It is a popular feature on the website, with more than 150,000 searches performed over the past 30 days, said Tim Gill, the corrections department’s web master. More than 97 percent of the searches are made by people living in the U.S., and seven out of 10 appear to come from people who are using computers in Washington, the data suggest. The search also gets regular use by folks from Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Australia.
The most popular inmate name searched? Gill said the corrections department doesn’t track that stat.
The site doesn’t tell you when the offender is expected to be released. Victims, witnesses and others can sign up to receive notification.
My search results? A gaggle of goons I hope to never see again appear to be living at the prison complex in Monroe. One of them is a child murderer doing life — may he rot. The most prolific serial rapist in county history, a truly scary guy, is doing his time at Stafford Creek Corrections Center on the coast. Two women who snuffed out the lives of good men here are stuck in Purdy. The worst child rapist I ever wrote about is in the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla. Some of his prison mates are equally unpleasant, but for different reasons, mostly involving bad attitudes and violence. It is comforting to think of them on the other side of big walls topped by razor wire.