From: An Anonymous Washington Stater [Email him]
I visited a prisoner for years at Airway Heights, a state prison outside Spokane. Over time, I noticed that the demographics described in the prison website didn't match what I saw in the visiting room.
I found out why when the prisoner I visited told me about the ID system the prison (and Washington State Department of Corrections) uses for the inmate "store", the place in the joint where prisoners can buy snacks, toiletries, etc. The store keeps a book of prisoner descriptions with the height, weight, age and other data so that they can't use each other's credits. One of the descriptors, not surprisingly, is race. No matter how dark the complexion, inmates with a Spanish surname are listed as "white". Thus the percentage of the prisons' population that is white is way overstated.
James Fulford writes: I was astonished to see that in Washington State, the state prisons are supposed to be 71.5% White and only 18.7% Black. Most prisons are majority black. Then I found out that the entire state of Washington is only 3.6% Black, so the same ratio applies.