Prison task force to meet Tuesday

The group is trying to avoid job cuts at the penitentiary.

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A community task force hoping to defray or defuse possible job cuts at the Washington State Penitentiary will hold its next meeting Tuesday.
The group, composed of local community leaders and legislators, will meet at 3 p.m. at the meeting room in the Walla Walla Regional Airport main terminal.
Jim Kuntz, Port of Walla Walla executive director, said the Port has been preparing materials documenting the impacts cuts at the facility would have on the local economy and the economic impacts of any closures.
The task force will also hear about a study prepared by penitentiary Superintendent Stephen Sinclair on the unique characteristics of the facility.
The task force was formed in July to seek ways to save the penitentiary from cuts as the result of a shortfall in the state budget as well as a decrease in inmates coming into the system after years of increasing numbers.
A consulting group, Christopher Murray & Associates, is performing a study for the state Office of Financial Management, which has been ordered by the state Legislature to prepare a study and plan to eliminate 1,580 beds in Department of Corrections facilities.
The study must also find ways to cut 235 beds from juvenile rehabilitation facilities and 250 beds in residential habilitation centers operated by the Department of Social and Health Services.
A draft of the report to the governor and Legislature is due by Oct. 1, and Nov. 1 is the deadline for the final report.

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