There are over 15,000 Washingtonians incarcerated in state prisons. These inmates come from all over the state. Every county is represented in the Washington state prison system.

We've made a list of the Top-10 cities in Washington with residents behind prison bars, which you'll find below. But you should know: if you live in a poor neighborhood, the odds increase that someone you know will end up in prison.

The Prison Policy Initiative

These are the findings reported by the Prison Policy Initiative, based on information collected in 2020. This data is now available because Washington law prohibits "prison gerrymandering", in which census data previously counted the prison population as residents of wherever that prison was, rather than their home address. In fact, many of those prison "residents" come from out-of-state.

Prison Gerrymandering

Washington State Counties that used prison gerrymandering in the past are:

  • Grays Harbor
  • Mason
  • Walla Walla

Prison gerrymandering may help politicians, but by inflating their city's population, it hurts communities that are under-invested in. It hides the neighborhoods that could use help.

Does Your Zip Code Predict Your Future?

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, there is a connection between communities with high rates of imprisonment, and under-investment in those communities. Unemployment, low household income, long commutes, lack of education, and abandoned homes are common factors. As is the lack of access to healthy food options, including farmer's markets and grocery stores.

And when compared with "nicer neighborhoods," the areas affected by incarceration have children with higher levels of lead in their blood. Old paint in old homes is likely to blame for poisoning them.

Ali Hohman, director of legal services for the Washington Defender Association, told the online newspaper CrossCut that “it really just shows that zip codes do dictate life outcomes."

Is your Zip-code in a high-incarceration area? You can access that information here.

KEEP SCROLLING TO SEE...

THE TOP 10 WASHINGTON CITIES WITH INCARCERATED RESIDENTS

  • loading...
    10

    Bremerton

    Population: 43, 505

    Residents incarcerated: 205

  • Lakewood, WA
    Lakewood, WA
    loading...
    9

    Lakewood

    Population: 63,612

    Residents incarcerated: 220

  • Kennewick, WA
    Kennewick, WA
    loading...
    8

    Kennewick

    Population: 84,142

    Residents incarcerated: 248

  • Kent, WA
    Kent, WA
    loading...
    7

    Kent

    Population: 136,882

    Residents incarcerated: 294

  • Vancouver, WA
    Vancouver, WA
    loading...
    6

    Vancouver

    Population: 191,403

    Residents incarcerated: 488

  • Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce via YouTube
    Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce via YouTube
    loading...
    5

    Yakima

    Population: 97,394

    Residents incarcerated: 505

  • Everett, WA
    Everett, WA
    loading...
    4

    Everett

    Population: 111,140

    Residents incarcerated: 511

  • Spokane, WA
    Spokane, WA
    loading...
    3

    Spokane

    Population: 229,845

    Residents incarcerated: 941

  • Getty Images for Rock'n'Roll Mar
    Getty Images for Rock'n'Roll Mar
    loading...
    2

    Seattle

    Population: 738,095

    Residents incarcerated: 1,215

  • Tacoma, WA
    Tacoma, WA
    loading...
    1

    Tacoma

    Population: 220,635

    Residents incarcerated: 1,351