Legislature provides funds to repurpose closed Maple Lane facility

After being mothballed for several years, Maple Lane youth detention center in Grand Mound is one step closer to being reopened.

The Legislature directed the Department of Corrections to look into expanding the facility to house inmates with mental health issues in the long term; and allocated funds for the Department of Social and Health Services to house restoration treatment beds in the short term.

The DOC is considering the construction of a 700-bed adult correctional facility for inmates with mental health issues to be built at Maple Lane.

“The purpose of this facility is to provide an improved continuum of care for the existing mental health population that is currently spread across the 12 DOC facilities,” Andrew Gerber, press secretary for the DOC, said in an email. “The agency assumes a design-build project with funding needed for construction beginning in (fiscal year) 2018. Assuming construction funds are provided, the anticipated timeline for the project completion is in 2020.”

The Legislature directed the DOC to review the policies that determine custody levels and evaluate the options, cost and timing of any proposal to build a new prison. The DOC is required to report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by Dec. 1.

Maple Lane was closed in 2011 as part of a sweeping round of statewide budget cuts. Before closing, it employed about 260 people and housed about 200 juvenile offenders with mental illnesses or addictions.

Last October, the Department of Corrections established a pharmacy in one of the buildings at the facility. The move was part of a larger consolidation of the DOC’s prescription drug distribution system. Now the pharmacy at Maple Lane fills prescriptions for the state’s 17,000 offenders.

The Legislature also allocated up to $600,000 to the Department of Social and Health Services for renovations at the facility for temporary forensic beds. According to Jane Beyer, the assistant secretary of the DSHS Integration Administration, an estimated 90 extra beds are needed to meet the seven-day standards for competency services now required.

The move comes in the wake of a civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of mentally ill inmates who were being warehoused in county jails while waiting to be moved to the state’s mental hospital. Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that inmates must be moved from county jails within seven days of a judge’s order.

“DSHS is exploring several options ... ,” Beyer said in an email. “The Maple Lane option is in the exploratory stages, and no decision on its use has yet been made.”

DSHS officials are about 30 days into a 90-day comment period required as part of the special use permit application process before Maple Lane can be opened to adult inmates. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 29 in the Cascade Cottage at Maple Lane School, 20311 Old Highway 9 SW.

The public also can offer comments to MapleLaneComments@dshs.wa.gov. Additional information is available at dshs.wa.gov/fsa/office-capital-programs/maple-lane.