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AGLO 1979 No. 30 - September 17, 1979
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington


The Department of Social and Health Services is authorized by the provisions of RCW 43.20A.220, RCW 72.01.050 and RCW 72.64.050, to convert the Cedar Creek Youth Camp from a juvenile facility into a minimum security honor camp for adults.

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                                                              September 17, 1979

Honorable Del Bausch
State Senator, 22nd Dist.
P.O. Box 1546
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1979 No. 30

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you made note of an announcement by the State Department of Social and Health Services of its plans ". . . to convert the Cedar Creek Youth Camp in Littlerock from a 90-bed juvenile facility into a 90-bed minimum security honor camp for adults."  You then requested our opinion on the following question:

            "Is the Department of Social and Health Services authorized to convert the Cedar Creek Youth Camp in the manner described above and, if so, what is the legal authority which empowers the Department to do so?"

            We respond to your inquiry in the affirmative for the reasons set forth below.


            It is, of course, a well-established principle that state agencies, such as the Department of Social and Health Services, have only those powers which have been granted to  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] them by the legislature, either expressly or by necessary implication.  Accord,State ex rel. Eastvold v. Maybury, 49 Wn.2d 533, 304 P.2d 663 (1956).  And, as pointed out in your letter, it is further true that there presently exists ". . . no specific statutory authorization for the conversion of Cedar Creek from a youth camp to an adult honor camp . . ." in the sense that there is no statute now on the books which thus deals, by express language, with this particular facility.

            On the other hand, as you have also noted, the Department of Social and Health Services is statutorily vested, under RCW 43.20A.220, with all of the powers, duties and functions of all divisions of the previous State Department of Institutions.  Moreover, this statute further provides that:

            ". . . The secretary or his designee shall perform all functions concerned therewith formerly assigned to the director of institutions to be performed either by the director or through his various division heads."

            When, in turn, we look to the prior statutes relating to the powers and functions of the director of Institutions, we find, in "old" RCW 72.01.050 the following:

            "The director shall have full power to manage and govern the following public institutions.

            "The western state hospital, the eastern state hospital, the northern state hospital, the state penitentiary, the state reformatory, the state training school, the state school for girls, the state soldiers' home and colony, the Washington veterans' home, Lakeland Village, the Rainier school, the state school for the deaf, the state school for the blind, the state narcotic farm colony, the Fort Worden school for the care and custody of children and youthand such other institutions as authorized by law, subject only to the limitations contained in laws relating to the management of such institutions."  (Emphasis supplied)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The Cedar Creek Youth Camp referred to in your letter is clearly one of those ". . . other institutions as authorized by law . . .";i.e., in this case, RCW 72.05.150, under which this facility was established in the mid 1950's by the department in exercise of the following general authority:

            ". . . The department, through the division, shall have power to acquire, establish, maintain, and operate 'minimum security' facilities for the care, custody, education, and treatment of children with less serious behavior problems. . . ."

            And, although that statute only authorizes the establishment of facilities ". . . for the care, custody, education and treatment of children . . ." there is nothing contained therein, or in any other law, which purports to limit or restrict the later use of such a place as a youth camp only, to the exclusion of its reestablishment by the department as a minimum security honor camp for adult offenders‑-as affirmatively authorized by another statute, RCW 72.64.050, which specifically provides that:

            "The secretary shall also have the power to establish temporary branch institutions for the state penitentiary, state reformatory and other penal and correctional institutions of the state in the form of honor camps for the employment of prisoners therein in farming, reforestation, wood-cutting, land clearing, processing of foods in state canneries, forest fire fighting, forest fire suppression and prevention, stream clearance, watershed improvement, development of parks and recreational areas and other work to conserve the natural resources and protect and improve the public domain and construction of water supply facilities to state institutions."

            The point, simply stated, is the legislature has authorized the establishment and operation of both types of facilities.  In so doing it has not in any way barred the department, as a management function under RCW 72.01.050,supra, from discontinuing its use of a given place as a youth camp under RCW 72.05.150,supra, and thereafter using the same facility  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] as a minimum security honor camp for adult offenders under RCW 72.64.050, supra.  And, under the wording of RCW 72.01.050 that is the legal test which here must be applied.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General

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