State of Washington
65th Legislature
2017 Regular Session
By Representatives Goodman, Klippert, Pettigrew, Hayes, Griffey, Chapman, and Jinkins
Read first time 02/08/17. Referred to Committee on Public Safety.
AN ACT Relating to requiring the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to improve offender programs; and adding new sections to chapter 72.09 RCW.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  A new section is added to chapter 72.09 RCW to read as follows:
The legislature recognizes the importance of reducing recidivism in the criminal justice system. Most people who are incarcerated will return to the community, yet more than half of people currently being imprisoned have been in prison before. This cycle of crime hinders public safety and is costly to taxpayers. In recent years the legislature has engaged in considerable efforts to reduce recidivism by focusing on reentry planning and programs. The legislature has required a systematic shift towards evidence-based and research-based practices and has continued to focus state resources on effective programs in the field of adult corrections.
The legislature intends to expand upon these efforts by requiring the department to assess reentry programs on an ongoing basis, stop funding programs that are not working, and continue and expand upon what is working. The legislature intends for state funds to be prioritized for evidence-based and research-based practices, but not to preclude promising practices. The legislature does not intend to stifle innovation or new development. Instead, the department must use evidence-based and research-based practices as a lens through which to evaluate programs going forward. However, the legislature intends that the department not fund any program that does not reduce recidivism or readmission to prison to a statistically significant degree when evaluated over a reasonable period of time.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  A new section is added to chapter 72.09 RCW to read as follows:
(1) The department shall develop and implement a comprehensive plan for programs. The plan must prioritize funding for and implementation of programs that:
(a) Follow the risk needs responsivity model;
(b) Focus on high risk offenders, including violent and nonviolent offenders, unless otherwise required by law;
(c) Are deemed evidence-based by the institute or Washington State University, or are included in the substance abuse and mental health services administration's national registry of evidence-based programs and practices; and
(d) Have measurable outcomes including, but not limited to, reducing recidivism and readmissions to correctional institutions below current levels.
(2)(a) The department shall discontinue ineffective programs and practices, and repurpose underspent funds according to the priorities in the plan. The department may not cancel or discontinue a successful program that reduces recidivism in favor of implementing a new program without empirical data showing the same or better outcomes, unless otherwise required by law.
(b) Within amounts provided in the operating budget for programs, the department may allocate up to five percent for the piloting and researching of programs deemed research-based or a promising practice.
(3) The department shall submit a report by December 1st of each year to the council, the governor, and the appropriate committees of the legislature regarding the department's compliance with this section. The report must: (a) Include a summary of the comprehensive plan; (b) analyze state funds allocated to programs, including percentages and amounts of funds used in evidence-based and research-based practices and the number of people being served; (c) identify discontinued and newly implemented programs, including information used by the department in evaluating the effectiveness of discontinued and implemented programs; and (d) provide recommendations to improve program outcomes, including recommended strategies, deadlines, and funding. The department shall respond to the council's inquiries and requests with respect to programs and consider the council's recommendations when developing and updating the comprehensive plan required under this section.
(4) For the purposes of this section:
(a) "Council" means the Washington statewide reentry council.
(b) "Institute" means the Washington institute for public policy.
(c) "Programs" means all offender programs in correctional facilities and community settings using state funds. This term also includes contracted offender programs provided by third-party entities and paid for with state funds.
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