TUMWATER – Due to the state’s efforts to reduce correctional facility populations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, more than 150 women have transferred to the community.

That’s enough to allow the Department of Corrections to move all incarcerated women housed at the Yakima County Jail back to the Washington Corrections Center for Women.

As a result, Corrections has notified Yakima County Jail leadership it plans to terminate its contract to house incarcerated women with the county since the department no longer has a need to house these women outside of state correctional facilities. Corrections will continue other contracts with the Yakima County Jail at this time.

“Corrections is pleased to be able to house all the state’s incarcerated women within our two women’s correctional facilities,” said Corrections Secretary Stephen Sinclair. “Housing the women at the state’s correctional facilities will give them more opportunity to participate in correctional programming and education, which supports the department’s mission of improving public safety by positively changing lives.”

Corrections has contracted with the Yakima County Jail since February 2014 to house up to 60 incarcerated females due to capacity needs. Women were moved into the new jail facility in December 2018, and the department began a therapeutic community (TC) program in the unit in January 2019.

“We’re grateful for our relationship with the Yakima County Jail and for their assistance in housing these women when Corrections lacked the capacity,” he said. “We look forward to our continued partnership to protect public safety.”

The Department had already started reducing the population at the Yakima County Jail prior to this move. The emergency proclamation helped expedite the effort while allowing the department to meet its social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The Governor’s emergency proclamation (pdf) and commutation order (pdf) authorized the limited transfer of 950 minimum custody and work release-based incarcerated individuals to their communities.