Response to Misleading Tacoma News Tribune Article

Two days ago, The News Tribune published a James Drew article in regard to a Washington State Supreme Court Hearing in which Columbia Legal Services asked for a Writ of Mandamus for the release of Washington State prisoners exposed to Coronavirus [COVID-19]. Drew’s article is a see-through example of how irresponsible reporting is dangerous for a public looking for truth and understanding. Taylor Buck, Post-Prison Education Program, emailed the following response.

James Drew,

I’m writing in response to your article, “State, inmates’ attorney clash over COVID-19 early release plan.”State, inmates’ attorney clash over COVID-19 early release plan”. More specifically, I’m writing in response to the article’s biased, incomplete picture of the issues at hand. 

Fear mongering and misrepresentation are common ways media perpetuate fear of prisoners and misunderstanding of our prison system, and this article is a blatant example. It fails us as readers and citizens. Your article does not facilitate active, engaged citizenship. Instead it further stigmatizes an already disenfranchised population.

I’ll start at the end, with your reference to the Isaac Zamora case. You give no context for the case and refer only to fear of his potential release. Yet the facts of the Zamora case make unequivocally clear that the murders committed by Isaac Zamora arose from the failures of Washington State and Christine Gregoire’s administration to adequately and professionally address one of Washington State’s most serious issues: serious mental illness.

To exclusively focus on the purported fear that someone “violent” be freed simplifies a complex issue. The use of the word “rampage” further promotes sensationalism over sound information. In reality, it is possible to both support / protect victims of terrible crimes and grant humanity to those who did the crime. 

Later in the article, you quote state representative Jim Walsh:
This lawsuit is an outrage. It is a radical, anarchistic public policy agenda … that’s using the COVID outbreak to push this radical agenda to de-populate the prisons in Washington. To say it’s not good policy is an understatement. It’s disastrous public policy.

To quote such unfounded, inflammatory language is weak and harmful journalism. There are no claims of anarchism in this petition, nor is there any indication that anyone involved in these arguments is “using the COVID outbreak to push [a] radical agenda.” Including this quote serves only to fear monger, sensationalizing the issue at hand and dehumanizing those whose lives are at stake without providing any supporting information….

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