Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Washington State Penitentiary

Work took me down to Walla Walla yesterday and today. (There are more wine tasting shops in Walla Walla than there are Baptist churches in Abilene, Texas.) We visited with people at the state penitentiary on a project to allow prisoners to electronically file their case documents. While there we were treated to a tour of the facility. Lots of razor wire and remotely controlled gates.

The coolest part was the Sustainable Practices Lab. Inmates take donated and scrap materials and make things. There's a wood shop, a bicycle repair shop, and aquaponics where they raise tilapia. Green houses are under construction and seedlings are already growing, waiting to be moved as soon as the green houses are finished. Inmates repair office chairs, exercise equipment, and wheel chairs. They sew backpacks, make quilts, and clothing for children. They also make stuffed bears.

They insisted we each take a bear. Each bear is assigned an unique prisoner number. I got #000101 along with a certificate attesting to my guardianship of said bear.

And then I walked a half-mile through the prisoner to the other side holding a stuffed bear like I do when I hold Kathy's purse. Like a football.

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