The original concept – conceived in the fall of 1979 – was to divide the main compound of the prison into four more or less equal quadrants: two for housing, and two for inmate services and programs. A new movement control room and gate was constructed at the center of the main compound. The basic plan was substantially completed during Kastama’s relatively brief term as superintendent. The architectural scheme facilitated implementation of unit team management and a gate/pass system to control inmate movement, two things which greatly improved inmate and staff safety.

The main compound was divided into four quadrants with a central movement control room and gate.

The main compound was divided into four quadrants with a central movement control room and gate

26 Movement Control


The Intensive Management Unit, or IMU, was the last major piece in the puzzle for regaining control of the penitentiary. Finally, segregation was moved out of the middle of the institution and inmates in seg were truly isolated from the rest of the prison population. The IMU was officially opened on June 27, 1984.

The design and operating procedures for the IMU were based on one simple principle: that no one – inmate or staff – ever gets hurt. For the most part, it’s worked that way.

The Intensive Management Unit

The Intensive Management Unit at the Washington State Penitentiary – 1984


This aerial photograph of the penitentiary was taken in 1985 by the aerial photography branch of the Washington State Department of Transportation. By this time, almost all of the many changes and improvement originally conceived in 1979 were finished: division of the main compound into four quadrants, demolition of old buildings and construction of new ones to create specialized functions for each quadrant, rearrangement of circulation patterns and movement controls, construction of day rooms and unit management offices for each cell block, construction of a medium security complex to the west of the main institution, conversion of the old women’s prison to a minimum security unit, and construction of the IMU.

1985 image jpeg for Kindle