House approves Dye’s wild horse inmate training bill. . . again!

A bill written by Rep. Mary Dye that would have the Department of Corrections (DOC) study the feasibility of creating a wild horse inmate training program in Washington passed the state House Tuesday, 95-2.

Dye, R-Pomeroy, says House Bill 2210 would direct DOC to conduct a feasibility study and develop a plan for implementing a wild horse training, holding, and farrier program at a state corrections center.

“This is a bill that originally passed the Legislature in 2020. But that was the year COVID hit and Governor Inslee vetoed 147 bills to save money, including my Wild Horse Inmate Training Program bill. It originally called for an appropriation of $166 thousand for a feasibility study to create this program at the Coyote Ridge Correctional Center in Connell,” said Dye.

The 9th District lawmaker says she brought this idea to the Legislature after touring a very successful program at a state prison in Arizona in the fall of 2019.

“The Arizona program involved as many as 30 inmates who train wild horses captured from public lands to control the Mustang population. The program gives inmates hands-on training in the equestrian field, helps them to build self-confidence as they care for the animals, and provides the opportunity for employable skills they can use upon release, including farrier certification. The recidivism rate for those inmates who have participated in the program and served their time is low,” noted Dye. “It also helps the Bureau of Land Management manage the horse population on public lands and keeps the ranges healthy.”

The House passed a similar measure, House Bill 1543, last year. However, it died in the Senate.

Since the original bill passed in 2019, Dye says there have been changes in DOC administration at Coyote Ridge that necessitated changes in the legislation.

“This latest new bill is much broader so that the Department of Corrections can study and create a plan for a program at the most appropriate correctional facility. Walla Walla Community College and the correctional facility in Walla Walla have agreed to do a feasibility study. But if the population is not appropriate for that area, this bill would allow another facility to be considered,” said Dye.

“Ultimately, we know this program helps to change the hearts and minds of inmates. It provides marketable skills. And it gives them a sense of self-confidence and inner peace that helps to rehabilitate them back into society,” Dye added. “I’m very pleased we could get it out of the House once again. Hopefully, this time we can make it to the finish line with the governor’s signature.”

The bill has been scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 8 a.m. in the Senate Human Services Committee. The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to end March 7.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov