effectively for us in the past...our best hope is that it will continue with some success down the road.”
John Christy, WSP Correctional
In the face of imminent job cuts - the loss of
more than 170 positions - at the beginning of 2012, Walla Walla’s
Washington State Penitentiary Taskforce is again called to meet
the challenge of competing interests.
Because of state budget reductions, the Department
of Corrections is seeking ways to significantly cut prison operating
costs...at the same time Walla Walla is concerned about the “fairness”
of a significant reduction in jobs.
Port Commissioner Paul Schneidmiller says the
cuts will reach far beyond prison walls. “For every 100 corrections
jobs, another 67 community jobs will be indirectly impacted.”
The Port and Taskforce are expected to appeal
to the governor and DOC for more time to allow the legislature an
opportunity to look at the reduction in forces and other cost reducing
“It will be great if we can come up with
an initiative that will solve the expense challenges without eliminating
jobs,” Schneidmiller said.
“In 2009 I approached
the Port of Walla Walla with concern that the Washington State Penitentiary
was vulnerable to job reductions and restructuring...the community
needed to pay attention and rally behind one of the largest employers
in the Walla Walla Valley.
“Before long the Washington State Penitentiary
Community Taskforce was formed. The Port has been and continues
to be its leader.
“The accomplishments of this Community Taskforce
have been nothing short of impressive during these challenging economic
Director of Washington State Prisons
July, 2009 Taskforce kickoff meeting to study
Washington State Legislative proposal to eliminate 1,580 prison
September, 2009 Taskforce meets to review
updated economic impact analysis and unique characteristics of WSP
documents. Taskforce findings submitted to Office of Financial
Management. No other community has provided this kind of detail.
October, 2009 Taskforce (Port and City of
Walla Walla) retains former Washington State Representative Dave
Mastin to lobby the 2010 legislature to commit funds for design
of two new medium security units and expand west kitchen complex
June, 2010 $6.8 million secured for predesign
efforts for MSU and kitchen.
June 2011 State capital budget includes $42
million to construct new medium security units and expansion of
west kitchen complex.
September, 2011 Construction contract for new units
awarded to Lydig Construction.
October, 2011 Governor Chris Gregoire endorses
plan developed by the Department of Corrections that will reconfigure WSP operations, saving an estimated $10 million a year, but
cutting more than 170 jobs at the Walla Walla prison.