Washington State Penitentiary

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Washington State Penitentiary (WSP)
Washington State Penitentiary is located in Washington (state)
Washington State Penitentiary
Location in Washington
LocationWalla Walla
Coordinates46°4′41″N 118°21′32″W / 46.07806°N 118.35889°W / 46.07806; -118.35889Coordinates: 46°4′41″N 118°21′32″W / 46.07806°N 118.35889°W / 46.07806; -118.35889
Security classMinimum, Medium, Close, Maximum
Managed byWashington State Department of Corrections
WardenDonald Holbrook, Superintendent
Street address1313 North 13th Ave.
CityWalla Walla
CountyWalla Walla County
ZIP Code99362
CountryUnited States

Washington State Penitentiary (also called the Walla Walla State Penitentiary) is a Washington State Department of Corrections men's prison located in Walla Walla, Washington. With an operating capacity of 2,200, it is the second largest prison in the state (after Coyote Ridge Corrections Center) and is surrounded by wheat fields. It opened 133 years ago in 1886, three years before statehood.

It was the site of Washington State's death row and where executions were carried out, until the Washington Supreme Court ruled the state's death penalty statute unconstitutional on October 11, 2018, thereby abolishing capital punishment in the state. Methods for execution were lethal injection and hanging.

Located at 1313 N. 13th Avenue, it is commonly known as "the Walls" among inmates and "The Penn" to the locals. The penitentiary is sometimes known as Concrete Mama, from a book with the same title by Ethan Hoffman and John McCoy. Elsewhere within Washington, and also to an extent in the surrounding states, the name Walla Walla is a metonym for the penitentiary. The penitentiary was the subject of the song "Walla Walla" by American punk rock band The Offspring.

Notable incarcerated persons[edit]



Washington State Penitentiary opened in 1886, making it the oldest operational prison in Washington state.[5] Over a one-year period, starting in March 2002, more than one hundred inmates and staff at the Washington State Penitentiary were infected with Campylobacter jejuni. During this period, five clusters of the infection were identified, and genetic testing indicated that all of the bacteria were indistinguishable from each other. The source of this outbreak is not known, but contamination via pigeon feces, as well as unsafe food handling procedures, were examined.[6][clarification needed]


The penitentiary has five groups:

  • Camp/Minimum: 1-4 Years
  • Protective Custody & Mental Health: 1 Year- Life
  • Medium: 1 Year- Life
  • Close: 1 Year- Life
  • Maximum/Segregation: 1 Year- Life

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/Briefs/A02/378931%20reply.pdf
  2. ^ "Little Willie John is arrested for murder after performing at Seattle's Magic Inn on October 17, 1964. - HistoryLink.org". www.historylink.org. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  3. ^ "Little Willie John". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  4. ^ Johnson, Gary. "Michigan Rock and Roll Legends - LITTLE WILLIE JOHN". www.michiganrockandrolllegends.com. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  5. ^ http://www.doc.wa.gov/facilities/prison/wsp/
  6. ^ Campylobacter Outbreak - Washington State Penitentiary

Further reading[edit]

  • Christopher Murray (2016). Unusual Punishment: Inside the Walla Walla Prison 1970-1985. Washington State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87422-339-2.
  • John McCoy (1986). Concrete Mama: Prison Profiles from Walla Walla (1st ed.). University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0-8262-0604-6.
  • Arthur Longworth (2016). Zek: An American Prison Story (1st ed.). Gabalfa Press. ISBN 978-0-9970-2990-1.

External links[edit]