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Wash. DOC Given $15 Million

The Washington state DOC has been given an additional $15 million in emergency funding to ease overcrowding in state prisons.

Even after the money is spent to open new prisons and add beds in existing prisons, the system is likely to be operating well beyond its intended capacity, said DOC secretary Chase Riveland.

According to Riveland, "That leaves us with two options. We'll either have to build more prisons, or we will have to make some policy changes. We really need to decide who we need to put in prison and for how long."

The state's seven major prisons are now operating at 165 percent of their intended capacity.

On June 26, 1992, the system took in its 10,000th prisoner. If incarceration continues as projected, the state will have 14,000 prisoners by 1996.

Last year the state began work on 6 new prisons. The state legislature added $10.5 million to the DOC budget this year to open these prisons as fast as they could be built. The additional money is intended to speed the process up even more.

With the $10.5 million the state has just added 400 beds to the Coyote Ridge minimum security prison. Other prison construction projects include:
Building a 400 bed minimum security prison in Airway Heights near Spokane.
Building a 1,024 bed medium security prison near Airway Heights.
Replacing an aging facility at McNeil Island with a new prison that will add 800 beds.
Adding 400 beds in a medium security complex at Clallam Bay.
Adding 300 beds to the womens prison at Purdy.

Seattle Times , July 19, 1992

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