Closing Larch prison could reduce firefighters, cost DNR more - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Closing Larch prison could reduce firefighters, cost DNR more

LONGVIEW, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire's plan to close the Larch Mountain prison near Vancouver to save money could end up costing the state more.
     
The Daily News of Longview reports the Department of Natural Resources uses inmates from the minimum-security prison to fight fires, plant trees, improve trails and do other work on state lands.
     
Without the inmate labor, the department will have to contract out the service at a higher costs.
     
A DNR report last month showed the cost for an inmate fire crew last year was $3,000 a day, while a privately contracted crew would cost three to five times as much.

Previous Coverage
Correctional facilities on Gregoire's chopping block

(January 12, 2010)

Before a joint session of the House and Senate, Gov. Gregoire Tuesday proposed closing or partially closing five correctional facilities across Washington State.

The closures, according to Gregoire's testimony, would save the state more than $60 million while at the same time, would not affect prisoner release dates.

"First, I propose to close, or partially close, five correctional facilities. By more efficiently using the beds we have, we can save $65 million over four years and not release a single offender prior to his or her earned release date," said Governor Gregoire.

One of the facilities that could face complete or partial closure is McNeil Island, the center that houses convicted rapist Kevin Coe. The extent of the closures is currently unknown.

The proposed closures have at least one Eastern Washington law enforcement head worried. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says the closures would put more pressure on an already overcrowded system. >>More

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