Re: “Bill to release prisoners, cut funding under fire” (TNT, 4-3).
The Associated Press reported that our state Legislature is considering a slight reduction of nonviolent prisoners’ sentences. The prison guard union – as expected – opposes this action. Additionally, the city of Walla Walla formed a “task force” to combat it.
Why such a desperate response? Because if our prison population is diminished, the Department of Corrections is at risk of losing the quarter billion dollars it has been quietly allotted to construct new units and a new prison, despite the fact that a receiving center already exists at Shelton and is nowhere near overcrowded or outdated. The proposed new center will cost taxpayers a cool $200 million.
It is frustrating beyond words to see an ordinarily credible news outlet echoing the fear-mongering propaganda churned out by the guard union, especially when repeating the ludicrous claim that Washington prisons are more volatile than ever. In reality, violence in our prisons is at its lowest level on record.
The article states that Sen. Adam Kline’s proposal will save the state a mere $6.5 million – a “tiny percentage of the deficit” indeed. Meanwhile, health care clinics serving poor children are being shut down for want of $150,000 in annual funding. Is that a sensible distribution of taxpayer money?
Now go ask the guard union if it’s willing to forfeit any of its own funding so the children’s clinics can stay afloat.