The department announced the closure of Larch Corrections Center in Clark County, a medium-security prison that holds 240 inmates. The closure is in response to what the DOC claims is a decreasing prison population. According to the department, despite the massive amount of crime, only 70 percent of the beds in the agency’s 12 prisons in the entire state are occupied.
DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange touted the closure, saying that the state has “one of the lowest rates of incarceration in the nation” due to having “worked diligently to lower recidivism rates create better neighbors and ensure that incarcerated individuals don’t return to us once they get out.”
In the wake of the defund the police movement in 2020, local Democrats releasing over 1,000 prisoners during the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as activist prosecutors who don’t press charges and progressive judges who release prolific offenders or give them light sentences, Washington had a 46 percent increase in homicides. That number increased again in 2021.
Washington Democrats have also been pushing to release level 3 sex offenders, deemed the “worst of the worst,” into neighborhoods without informing the residents. Their goal is to close the prison on McNeil Island. Earlier this year, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee vetoed parts of a bill that would have required tribes and communities to receive advance notice if one of these sexually violent predators is relocated into their neighborhoods.
Washington was also ranked the third highest in the nation in 2022 for auto thefts.
Additionally, increased fentanyl use in prisons has led to more overdoses and staff exposures.
Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, posted on Twitter, “While violent crime rates rise all around this state, the WA Dept of Corrections is closing prisons. This is politics triumphing over public safety. And public interest. The people who help keep our communities safe are asking me to be their voice. I will. Larch should stay open.”
John Scearcy, Teamsters Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer said in a statement to local media that the decision to close the prison was “shortsighted and would be detrimental to prison staff and their families, the incarcerated population, and the local community.”
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