Washington State Pentitentiary to practice one-day lockdown for budget cuts

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WALLA WALLA - Washington State Pentitentiary will be one the state's eight major prisons locked down Tuesday as part of a budget-cutting exercise.

Although all corrections officers and other employees will report for work, the statewide lockdown is intended as a dry run for regular one-day lockdowns each month between now and the end of the budget cycle in June, Department of Corrections officials said Monday. During those later lockdowns, corrections officers and others not needed for essential operations will have an unpaid day off.

Prisons Director Bernie Warner said the lockdown is a test to give corrections officials a better sense of how much the department can save with the practice. The DOC and other state agencies are required to reduce across-the-board spending by 6 percent between now and June 2011. In the case of DOC, that means reducing spending by nearly $53 million, according to Warner.

During lockdowns, prisoners will remain in their cells all day and not be able to attend education classes, participate in treatment programs or go to work assignments. They will be allowed out for meals.

The numbers of corrections officers and other prison employees affected by the one-day lockdowns will vary from institution to institution, said Dan Pacholke, deputy prisons director. Prison officials will have a better sense of how much money will be saved by the lockdowns when they meet with DOC Superintendent Eldon Vail later this week, he said.

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