Feature goes behind bars

Patricia Vanderbilt

Walla Walla is known for three main things: wine, onions and the Washington State Penitentiary. Built in 1886 and known as “the Pen” or “the walls” to the community, the penitentiary has a capacity for 1,968 inmates and is the location of Washington’s death row. Capital punishment is a declining practice in many states and is abolished in 15;  Washington’s first execution in a decade took place in  September 2010.

The prison was recently in the news after an inmate stabbed a prison guard in the head with a ballpoint pen on March 1.  At Whitman, however, the penitentiary tends to be distant in our minds, though it is close in physical proximity. This week Feature looks into several points of intersection between the Pen and the Whitman community.