PRESS RELEASE: Larch Corrections Center to Officially Close
Released October 9, 2023Contact Chris Wright Communications Office
TUMWATER – Following a ruling in the Department of Corrections’ favor by a Clark County judge Monday, Larch Corrections Center (LCC), a minimum-security facility near Yacolt, will officially close October 10th. All incarcerated individuals have already gone through the classification process and were transferred to facilities throughout the state.
The majority of LCC employees accepted positions at other DOC facilities or other state agencies. Ten will continue to work at the facility. The prison is being ‘warm closed,’ meaning it could open in the future if needed. The remaining employees will ensure that the facility does not fall into disrepair.
“This is the result of investments made by the governor and legislature in sentencing alternatives and more humane treatment of those convicted of drug crimes,” said DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange. “We have an abundance of minimum-security beds and need to refocus our resources to provide those in our care and custody with the mental health, educational, programming and health care access best suited to meet their needs We are pleased the court recognized our authority to close Larch.”
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will utilize the wildfire off-season to further evaluate a proposal to station incarcerated individual fire crews at Longview Reentry Center. If DNR declines the proposal, the crews will be deployed from Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC) in Thurston County and Olympic Corrections Center (OCC) in Forks to help fight fires in southwest Washington. DOC crews play a supportive role fighting fires by digging fire lines and providing meals to firefighters. Any initial delays in response time from DOC crews will not affect DNR’s ability to suppress a wildfire.
DOC announced the closure in June as part of an effort to address declining incarceration trends. Mandated releases during the pandemic, sentencing alternative programs and changes to sentencing laws have left the agency with an abundance of minimum-security beds. The Washington Supreme Court ruled in the 2021 Blake Decision that simple possession of a controlled substance is no longer a felony. During the most recent legislative session, lawmakers revised the law and made drug possession a gross misdemeanor. All incarcerated individuals in DOC custody have been convicted of felonies, so this change in the law will not translate to an additional need for minimum-security beds.