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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Ciara O’Rourke

While in Custody: The Fight to Stop Jail Deaths in Washington State

When a prisoner dies in Washington state, the question of who is to blame often goes unaddressed. Meet the families, and their lawyers, who want answers.

by Ciara O’Rourke, Seattle Met

Stephanie Deal wanted her mom to bail her out. She wanted to go home. To see her daughter, Ella. “It’s only, like, $40,” she pleaded over the phone from the Cowlitz County Jail.

The 29-year-old had been arrested in Longview, Washington, 100 miles south of Seattle, Saturday, August 3, 2013, on a charge of driving with a suspended license. But her mother, Jule Crowell, was hopeful. Finally, Crowell thought, Stephanie had hit rock bottom. Maybe she’d give up heroin. There was cash saved up for rehab when she was released. Ella, age six, could continue to live with Crowell and her husband for now. Things would get better.

And so, certain her tough love was the wisest choice, Jule Crowell told her daughter no. She would not bail her out.

The decision would haunt Crowell for years.

Early in the morning, a week after Stephanie’s arrest, the phone rang again. Crowell rose from her bed and hurried to the kitchen. She needed to go to the hospital, the ...


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