Where We Are Now
No New Washington Prisons started as No New Women's Prison; we wanted to stop the Washington's Department of Corrections (DOC) from building a new prison in Thurston County, the Maple Lane project. That project is currently stalled. On April 23, 2020, Thurston County's Board of Commissioners voted to remove the DOC's re-zoning bid for Maple Lane from their 2020-2021 legislative docket. DOC has to make budget cuts due to Covid-19. But the fight is far from over!
As we have deepened our research about the DOC budget and Washington’s upcoming plans, we’ve learned that while the women’s prison expansion is currently on hold, the budget still includes plans for expansion of men’s prisons. We have pivoted to a call for No New Washington Prisons, aimed at helping people in Washington learn about all the state’s prison expansion plans and demand a moratorium on all prison expansion in Washington state.
This movement is about stopping all prisons everywhere and getting imprisoned people out! It is about investing in the resources that our communities want and need, like childcare, healthcare, housing, and income support.
How We Got Here
2020 - In July we changed from No New Women's Prison to No New Washington Prisons!
In late April, DOC said it plans to continue trying to build a new women's prison at Maple Lane and blamed the Thurston County vote on COVID-19 and not community organizing. In an email, DOC's outreach director wrote "The Maple Lane Corrections Center project was removed from the docket due to the State of Washington's current 'Stay Home, Stay Healthy' emergency order in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. [DOC] will resume its forward momentum as the state again returns to its operations." NNWP will not let this happen.
On April 23, Thurston County's Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to take re-zoning Maple Lane off its docket. Commissioner Tye Menser explained his decision, saying "I've gotten input from all sorts of folks in the community. Some are activist groups but others are very local people."
On April 15, Governor Inslee commuted the sentence of 1,100 people imprisoned for nonviolent convictions - all of whom were already scheduled to be released by the end of June. These commutations included only 60 people in women's prisons.
In early April, NNWP partnered with Survived and Punished for a social media campaign to mobilize people to call the governor and county commissioners and voice their opposition to the new prison. Following this action, our membership more than doubled.
2019 - In the fall, NNWP formed after learning about the DOC's plans for Maple Lane. We unified in our belief that the overcrowding in prisons is actually just over-incarcerating, and the solution is releasing prisoners and investing in transformative justice, not building more prisons. The prison at Maple Lane is being framed as a "humane" facility focused on re-entry. But we know that there is no such thing as a "humane" cage. Our points of unity include our commitment to prison abolition, collective power, community accountability, racial justice, and feminism.