Every bed in Washington state’s 12 prisons is full and officials expect the overcrowding to worsen. The Seattle Times reports that to ease the problem, Corrections Secretary Bernie Warner signed a contract with the Florida-based Geo Group to house up to 1,000 inmates in Baldwin, Mi. Geo will be paid $60 per day per inmate. The state shipped inmates out of state in earlier years, drawing complaints from inmates and their loved ones, who said it broke apart families.
Warner defends the move, saying, “What we don't want to do is have unsafe conditions in our prisons and go down the path of crime.” There are 16,752 men and women in Washington prisons. Warner believes the state can operate at its current capacity for 12 to 18 months before having to send offenders to the Michigan. Forecasters expect to need an additional 1,000 inmate beds by 2025. State Sen. Jeannie Darneille said that in the past Washington state inmates were selected for out-of-state prison placement based on their “model behavior,” not whether their families would be impacted. “These contractors only want the people who are going to perform well. They take the cream of the crop,” said Darneille, adding that sending inmates out of state is “absolutely bad policy.”