In Spokane, the 62 exchange was MAin in downtown Spokane and the 92 exchange stood for VAlley. The problem with using letters for an exchange was some combinations didn’t work well. Starting a number with 98 would have had to create the WUhan exchange, which until two years ago wouldn’t have meant anything to most people and would have been part of some QAnon conspiracy theory shortly after that.
The switch to all digits opened up many more prefixes, which were needed with the explosion of cellphones.
On the plus side, folks in the 509, which has been all of Eastern Washington’s area code for almost 65 years, are only now catching up to the rest of Washington. Since 1995, Western Washington’s 206 area code has been split off into four other area codes and all of those area codes went to 10-digit dialing in 2017.
But the change is inevitable. So take it from a Spokane transplant to the West Side: It takes a little time to get used to dialing 10 digits. But it takes even more time to remember not to dial 1 before dialing those 10.
High court defines ‘cruel’
The Washington Constitution and the U.S. Constitution both forbid cruel punishment, but the state’s is more protective, the state Supreme Court said last week. While the federal document forbids “cruel and unusual punishment” the state charter leaves out “unusual.”
It explained a ruling last year in which it ordered a 77-year-old inmate to be moved to a different level of confinement when COVID-19 struck. Robert Rufus Williams has hypertension and diabetes, and previously suffered a stroke. He was in a cell with three other inmates, but with no toilet or sink. He had to wait for corrections officers to unlock his cell and help him to the bathroom.
Williams, who is serving a 22-year sentence for assaulting an ex-girlfriend, was at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell when COVID-19 struck, and he eventually tested positive. He was moved to the infirmary at Airway Heights, treated and returned eventually to Coyote Ridge.
He wanted the court to sentence him to home confinement with a relative. The justices didn’t do that, but they did tell the Department of Corrections to accommodate his condition, which the department did by placing him in a cell with no cellmates and a sink, and access to ADA-compliant restroom facilities.
Inmates should not be placed at significant risk of injury or harm, or deprived of basic human dignity, the justices said, or in conditions “not reasonably necessary to accomplish a legitimate penological goal.”