At a recent Ways and Means Committee hearing, former Rep. Kelli Linville proclaimed that the state budget would not be balanced using gimmicks. In that spirit, the Legislature must ask DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus to detail her plan for housing incarcerated youth after Maple Lane closes and insist that Dreyfus not hide behind gimmicks that have already caused some of our state's most violent juvenile inmates to be released early.
In 2010, Dreyfus duped legislators into believing the state would save $6 million a year by closing Maple Lane. She hid her plan to build five new juvenile jails in Washington at a cost of over $160 million. When this plan became public after legislators left Olympia, Dreyfus asserted that these “residents” will benefit from being closer to their families. However, Dreyfus has no data to support this.
As a teacher at Maple Lane since 2000, I know that families are often the source of the inmates’ problems. The state has shifted its responsibility for housing and treating juvenile criminals onto counties and local taxpayers.
Under Dreyfus, parole officers who help juvenile offenders transition to constructive lives have been cut 70 percent. Felons are released early so Dreyfus can show she’s made 6 percent cuts within JRA. But at what cost?
Already one murder in Tacoma has been committed by a juvenile who was released two years earlier than his minimum sentence.
Any savings are dwarfed by Dreyfus’ $160 million plan to build five new prisons.