Hard news in hard times: Sustainable Prisons Project Hits Economic Downturn

Post by Project Co-Director Nalini Nadkarni

Economic conditions at the national and the state level are increasingly difficult due to sharp drops in state tax collections. Responding to these lean times, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire has instituted deep budget cuts.  She recently enacted a 6.3% across-the-board cut to head off a deepening budget deficit

Over the past three years, the Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC) has funded the Sustainable Prisons Project through a contract with The Evergreen State College. During that time, the WDOC has cut more than $220 million from its budget, frozen or cut more than 1,200 jobs, closed two prisons, slashed inmate populations, and cut the number of offenders on community-supervision probation.

On October 1, 2010, Eldon Vail, Secretary of the WDOC, announced a new 6.3% cut in its budget, which translates to a $53 million reduction. To achieve the savings, one prison will be closed, and 300 jobs will be frozen or cut. Employees will experience employee furlough days and cuts in pay. Inmates in larger prisons will be locked-down one day a month to reduce staff overtime costs. Drug treatment and education programs will be reduced.

Sadly – very sadly – the two-year contract for the Sustainable Prisons Project that began July 1, 2010 will be another casualty of this process. With one month of notice, WDOC funds that have supported our staff and students to carry out our activities will disappear. These activities include our science and sustainability lecture series, green collar job training, and conservation biology projects. Recycling, gardening, and composting will continue, as they have become part of regular DOC operations.

Our SPP group and The Evergreen State College are working hard to find alternative and bridge funding through grants and donations. Although there are some promising leads from the many people who strongly support our project, we have no guarantees for the future at this time.

We will keep our readers posted on this blog and through the media. If you have any suggestions or contacts that might lead to future support for this project, please contact our leaders (below). We are hopeful that our project will flourish even in these hard economic conditions.

Contact:
Nalini Nadkarni, Co-Leader, The Evergreen State College
nadkarnn@evergreen.edu
(360) 867-6621

Dan Pacholke, Project Co-Leader, WDOC
djpacholke@doc1.wa.gov

Kelli Bush, Project Manager, The Evergreen State College
bushk@evergreen.edu
(360) 867-6863

10 Comments:

  1. greener

    “Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire has instituted deep tax cuts. She recently enacted a 6.3% across-the-board tax cut to head off a deepening budget deficit.”

    Clarification is needed here especially in light of Impulse’s post. The governor has to run the state with a balanced budget as mandated. She has instituted deep cuts in state agency budgets because state revenues from sales taxes have fallen so low. Thus Sustainable Prisons has become another causality of these tough times. There are no tax cuts going on here, if anything they are looking at ways to raise taxes to bridge the gap.

    Reply to this comment ↓
  2. Kelli Bush

    Thank you for your comments on our recent post regarding budget cuts. I apologize for the confusion. The line referring to tax cuts should actually state that “Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire has instituted deep budget cuts. She recently enacted a 6.3% across-the-board cut to head off a deepening budget deficit.” I will amend this section of the post. Thanks for your continued interest in the Sustainable Prisons Project. We are actively working to resolve our budget issues.

    Reply to this comment ↓
  3. Rosie Kenny

    I called the Governor’s office regarding the 6.3% budget cuts, specifically talking about the Sustainable Prisons project.
    The aid with whom I spoke told me specific programs are funded through local legislation. And that the best bet to continue funding for the SPP is to contact them, Karen Fraser, Sam Hunt and Brendan Williams when they return in January.

    are there any plans for alternative funding?

    good luck! this is a delicate fabric made of resilient people
    Rosie

    Reply to this comment ↓
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