The Washington State Correctional Industries (CI) is a revenue-generating branch within the Washington Department of Corrections. It is not a private company, but unlike the WA DOC itself, CI is not directly funded by legislative appropriations. Its operating costs are funded by its own revenues. However, WA DOC contributes handsomely to CI revenues when it purchases goods—such as food for prisoners—from CI using the budget granted to it by the Washington State Legislature, or when it pays certain CI salaries (e.g. commissary “store security” staff) out of the Offender Betterment Fund—a fund primarily generated by loved ones of Washington prisoners through prison phone and prison visiting vending commissions [see DOC 200.200 and WA DOC’s Offender Betterment Fund‐FY19 Expenditures document (with data science critique) presented to the Statewide Family Council on July 13, 2019].
CI’s operations are governed by the Chapter 72.60 RCW. CI has what appears to be an anomalous and fully protected business model. Most of its customers—both those inside and outside of correctional facilities—are captive consumers, bound by statute (see RCW 72.60.160 ) and a complex body of contracts to purchase products—including prisoner commissary and package products—from CI. Moreover, CI’s overhead costs are minimized by the part of the US Constitution that still allows for slave labor. (Prisoners working for CI are given an hourly gratuity—not a wage, but a gratuity—that is lower than what folks in Seattle pay for a doppio.) CI is not subjected to the sort of free market pressures of competition to which true businesses are exposed, nor are its purported savings to the WA DOC factored into long-term WA DOC costs (e.g. prisoner medical care after years on a CI diet). Here we aim to show how the CI model affects efforts to achieve various Washington State penological, economic, and public health objectives.
Know of a CI contract, document, or practice we ought to have listed here? Contact us here.
Precedent for Removing CI as a Vendor
- 2012 – HB 2346 staff uniforms
- “VICTORY IN THE SENATE! UNIFORM BILL PASSES 45-3!” – Mar 01, 2012, Teamsters 117
CI Salaries (filter by Corrections, and note that using search term “Correctional Industries” will only bring up some relevant salaries, since this term is not necessarily in the formal job title of many high-ranking CI staff)
- WA DOC memo in response to 2018 Washington State Penitentiary Food Strike
- Living Unit Newsletter to Prisoners Promoting Processed Foods – Food Services Newsletter Sept 2018 Publication No. 700-NE002
- CI Food Catalog
- Report: Correcting Food Policy in Washington Prisons
- Multi-stakeholder work on CI food system in response to Executive Order 13-06
- Schwing, E. (2017, May 22). Nearly 160 Tons Of Food Manufactured In Washington Prison Kitchen Recalled. Northwest News Network. Retrieved from https://www.nwnewsnetwork.org/post/nearly-160-tons-food-manufactured-washington-prison-kitchen-recalled
- Office of Corrections Ombuds 2019 Annual Report