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Department of Corrections Reopens Programs for Incarcerated Individuals Across the State

April 13, 2022

By Brendan Baptiste

Department of Corrections

Three service dogs sit leashed in their training areas next to their trainers

Incarcerated veterans train service dogs at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in partnership with Brigadoon Service Dogs, for disabled veterans and civilians March 16, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Jimenez, DOC Communications)

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With the decline of COVID-19 numbers across Washington State, incarcerated individuals are slowly gaining back some normalcy with the reintroduction of programs and work at their facilities. Incarcerated individuals take pride in their work in industries such as horticulture, welding, wood working and manufacturing, and other jobs. Prison staff are equally excited to bring back programs designed to teach valuable work experience that could lead their students to jobs once released. Highlighted below are some of the programs that have recently reopened at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC).

Service Dogs

In partnership with Brigadoon Service Dogs (pdf), incarcerated veterans at SCCC are back to training service dogs for veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain Injury and/or mobility issues, as well as civilians in need. While under the supervision of a Brigadoon trainer, these dogs will learn how to become service animals and their trainers are given the opportunity to learn new skills that could lead to employment once release.

Wheels for World

In a program called Bicycles from Heaven, SCCC is restoring bicycles donated from the Aberdeen Lions Club, to give to children from low-income households. The bikes are stripped down, repaired, powder coated and rebuilt onsite by talented incarcerated individuals looking to make a difference in the lives of others.

The same shop also participates in Wheels for the World , which allows them to restore wheelchairs and then donate them to those in need all over the world. Hanging on the walls in the bike shop are thank you cards from places like Tonga, Abkhazia, and Guatemala. Wheels for the World is run through the non-profit organization Joni and Friends.

Weld

Stafford Creek Correctional Center through Grays Harbor College offers classes to incarcerated individuals. Students will have an opportunity to earn their General Education Degree (GED) or study vocational programs such Business Management, Construction Trades Apprenticeship Program or Welding. Participating in classes like the welding program can set incarcerated individuals up for the future in a well-paid industry that has been known to hire those with a prior criminal record.

Garden

Stafford Creek Corrections Center has approximately 45,000 square feet dedicated to growing produce. Multiple gardens and greenhouses allow incarcerated individuals to grow broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, collards, kale, spinach, pumpkins and many more fruits and vegetables. Harvesting the thousands of pounds of produce each year allows SCCC to not only supplement food for their own use, but also to donate to Coastal Harvest, various food banks, nursing homes and other community centers across seven western Washington counties.

COVID Precautions

As programs such as these reopen, the Department continues to require masking and social distancing for incarcerated individuals while indoors or in close contact. Staff and incarcerated individuals continue to test regularly for COVID-19 to ensure the safety of all those in our care and custody, and to continue to allow programs and jobs to run smoothly and safety.