Legislation to allow corrections officers’ uniforms to be made by the private sector passed the Washington State Senate Feb. 29. House Bill 2346 was approved with a vote of 45-3.
Rep. Maureen Walsh, the sponsor of the bill, said she was pleased that the Legislature saw the common sense in not having inmates make uniforms for the officers who guard them.
“I have no animosity toward Correctional Industries and what they do to provide work and skills for inmates. Carving out this task of making uniforms for the officers who guard them, however, is important for officer morale and providing them with a higher standard of professionalism when working with inmates,” said Walsh, R-Walla Walla. “This is the least we can do for these officers who put themselves in harms’ way every day in their jobs.”
The Senate amended the bill to exempt only the uniforms made for corrections officers’, rather than other staff uniforms and clothing made for the Department of Corrections.
“Correctional Industries makes uniforms for kitchen chefs and others and I don’t believe it’s a conflict of interest for the inmates to make those clothes. This was an acceptable amendment to the bill,” Walsh said. “I look forward to seeing the governor sign this into law. This idea came straight from the concerns I heard from our officers at the Walla Walla Penitentiary, and I am grateful to them for bringing this to my attention so we could fix the problem.”
Since the Senate amended the bill, the House must now accept or reject that version of the legislation. If the House accepts the amendment, the bill would then go to the governor’s desk for her signature.
The 60-day session is scheduled to adjourn March 8.
For more information, contact: Sarah Stewart, Public Information Officer, (360) 786-7720