State cuts costs for housing inmates

State cuts costs for housing inmates »Play Video
WASHINGTON - Gone are the days of living off the system. No more three hots and a cot, lazing around watching TV, reading, or working out.

Thousands of inmates at this medium security facility are finding life behind bars is far from cushy.

Washington rolled back spending. Coyote Ridge was tasked with cutting more than ten-percent of the daily costs to keep a prisoner.

Facility superintendent, Jeff Uttecht said, "It's difficult to determine what you cut, what you keep, what you defer, because deferring spending just means you spend it some other time."

That could drive up costs of everything the facility buys. Jeff Uttecht runs the prison and has overseen major changes here. He's focused on delivering only the necessities.

"It's difficult to explain it to them and give them time to vent their frustrations in pro social ways, is really important," he said.

Most inmates work an 8 hour day to keep the prison self-sufficient. Inmates sew uniforms, make their own underwear and gym clothes. If their jumpsuits start falling apart, they mend the suits themselves.

Laundry machines are energy efficient and use recycled water.
It's cheaper than using a laundry service. Inmates make all meals from scratch and buy supplies in bulk.

The most expensive cost is medical care. The state offers only basic treatment and inmates are charged a copay. Otherwise only dental and medical emergencies are tended to.

Medical director, Dr. Elizabeth Suiter said, "If nursing homes are closing down and child care is closing down getting your knee fixed is probably not the state's biggest priority right now, and it's harsh but that's what we live in right now."

Offenders are burdened with paying their own way. Lessening the burden for taxpayers.

Coyote Ridge is one of the newest facilities in the state and was built with efficiency in mind.

Each building is constructed exactly the same, shaving costs for maintenance and repairs.

There's also no irrigation or grounds to maintain.