SENATE BILL 5871
State of Washington 57th Legislature 2001 Regular Session
By Senators Kohl‑Welles and Hewitt
Read first time 02/06/2001. Referred to Committee on Human Services & Corrections.
AN ACT Relating to offender education in department of corrections' facilities; amending RCW 72.09.460; adding a new section to chapter 72.09 RCW; and creating new sections.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature finds that vocational training in the prisons directly contributes to the reduction of offender recidivism. The legislature finds that the cost of vocational programs is offset by more than double the savings to the state in avoided criminal prosecutions and incarceration. It further finds that the savings to the criminal justice system are only a fraction of the social and victim costs avoided when a person released from prison does not reoffend. Therefore, the legislature finds that the interest of public safety is best served by a comprehensive approach to offender basic and vocational education. Therefore, the legislature intends to secure the position of the existing offender education programs in the department of corrections while seeking appropriate means to achieve cost savings.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 72.09 RCW to read as follows:
The department shall maintain a continuum of work and educational programs to include basic education, vocational education, and other appropriate work and education programs, within available funds.
The department may not seek a budget reduction to eliminate educational or vocational programs found to be cost-effective in reducing recidivism.
The department may not eliminate educational or vocational programs found to be effective in accomplishing penological objectives, including but not limited to inmate management, violence or contraband reduction, production of goods and services for the department or other state agencies, and victim restitution unless the cost of the program exceeds the benefit the program produces. When proposing to eliminate any educational or vocational program that provides direct goods or services to the department or other state agencies, or meets penological objectives, the department must offset the replacement cost of the goods or services and the additional cost to maintain the penological objectives against the savings produced by the reduction in its proposal to eliminate the program.
Sec. 3. RCW 72.09.460 and 1998 c 244 s 10 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The legislature intends that all inmates be required to participate in department-approved education programs, work programs, or both, unless exempted under subsection (4) of this section. Eligible inmates who refuse to participate in available education or work programs available at no charge to the inmates shall lose privileges according to the system established under RCW 72.09.130. Eligible inmates who are required to contribute financially to an education or work program and refuse to contribute shall be placed in another work program. Refusal to contribute shall not result in a loss of privileges. The legislature recognizes more inmates may agree to participate in education and work programs than are available. The department must make every effort to achieve maximum public benefit by placing inmates in available and appropriate education and work programs and may not eliminate entire program categories in which inmates are required to participate by this section.
(2) The department shall provide access to a program of education to all offenders who are under the age of eighteen and who have not met high school graduation or general equivalency diploma requirements in accordance with chapter 28A.193 RCW. The program of education established by the department and education provider under RCW 28A.193.020 for offenders under the age of eighteen must provide each offender a choice of curriculum that will assist the inmate in achieving a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma. The program of education may include but not be limited to basic education, prevocational training, work ethic skills, conflict resolution counseling, substance abuse intervention, and anger management counseling. The curriculum may balance these and other rehabilitation, work, and training components.
(3) The department shall, to the extent possible and considering all available funds, prioritize its resources to meet the following goals for inmates in the order listed:
(a) Achievement of basic academic skills through obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent and achievement of vocational skills necessary for purposes of work programs and for an inmate to qualify for work upon release;
(b) Additional work and education programs based on assessments and placements under subsection (5) of this section; and
(c) Other work and education programs as appropriate.
(4) The department shall establish, by rule, objective medical standards to determine when an inmate is physically or mentally unable to participate in available education or work programs. When the department determines an inmate is permanently unable to participate in any available education or work program due to a medical condition, the inmate is exempt from the requirement under subsection (1) of this section. When the department determines an inmate is temporarily unable to participate in an education or work program due to a medical condition, the inmate is exempt from the requirement of subsection (1) of this section for the period of time he or she is temporarily disabled. The department shall periodically review the medical condition of all temporarily disabled inmates to ensure the earliest possible entry or reentry by inmates into available programming.
(5) The department shall establish, by rule, standards for participation in department-approved education and work programs. The standards shall address the following areas:
(a) Assessment. The department shall assess all inmates for their basic academic skill levels using a professionally accepted method of scoring reading, math, and language skills as grade level equivalents. The department shall determine an inmate's education history, work history, and vocational or work skills. The initial assessment shall be conducted, whenever possible, within the first thirty days of an inmate's entry into the correctional system, except that initial assessments are not required for inmates who are sentenced to life without the possibility of release, assigned to an intensive management unit within the first thirty days after entry into the correctional system, are returning to the correctional system within one year of a prior release, or whose physical or mental condition renders them unable to complete the assessment process. The department shall track and record changes in the basic academic skill levels of all inmates reflected in any testing or assessment performed as part of their education programming;
(b) Placement. The department shall follow the policies set forth in subsection (1) of this section in establishing criteria for placing inmates in education and work programs. The department shall, to the extent possible, place all inmates whose composite grade level score for basic academic skills is below the eighth grade level in a combined education and work program. The placement criteria shall include at least the following factors:
(i) An inmate's release date and custody level, except an inmate shall not be precluded from participating in an education or work program solely on the basis of his or her release date;
(ii) An inmate's education history and basic academic skills;
(iii) An inmate's work history and vocational or work skills;
(iv) An inmate's economic circumstances, including but not limited to an inmate's family support obligations; and
(v) Where applicable, an inmate's prior performance in department-approved education or work programs;
(c) Performance and goals. The department shall establish, and periodically review, inmate behavior standards and program goals for all education and work programs. Inmates shall be notified of applicable behavior standards and program goals prior to placement in an education or work program and shall be removed from the education or work program if they consistently fail to meet the standards or goals;
(d) Financial responsibility. (i) The department shall establish a formula by which inmates, based on their ability to pay, shall pay all or a portion of the costs or tuition of certain programs. Inmates shall, based on the formula, pay a portion of the costs or tuition of participation in:
(A) Second and subsequent vocational programs associated with an inmate's work programs; and
(B) An associate of arts or baccalaureate degree program when placement in a degree program is the result of a placement made under this subsection;
(ii) Inmates shall pay all costs and tuition for participation in:
(A) Any postsecondary academic degree program which is entered independently of a placement decision made under this subsection; and
(B) Second and subsequent vocational programs not associated with an inmate's work program.
Enrollment in any program specified in (d)(ii) of this subsection shall only be allowed by correspondence or if there is an opening in an education or work program at the institution where an inmate is incarcerated and no other inmate who is placed in a program under this subsection will be displaced; and
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision in this section, an inmate sentenced to life without the possibility of release:
(i) Shall not be required to participate in education programming; and
(ii) May receive not more than one postsecondary academic degree in a program offered by the department or its contracted providers.
If an inmate sentenced to life without the possibility of release requires prevocational or vocational training for a work program, he or she may participate in the training subject to this section.
(6) The department shall coordinate education and work programs among its institutions, to the greatest extent possible, to facilitate continuity of programming among inmates transferred between institutions. Before transferring an inmate enrolled in a program, the department shall consider the effect the transfer will have on the inmate's ability to continue or complete a program. This subsection shall not be used to delay or prohibit a transfer necessary for legitimate safety or security concerns.
(7) Before construction of a new correctional institution or expansion of an existing correctional institution, the department shall adopt a plan demonstrating how cable, closed-circuit, and satellite television will be used for education and training purposes in the institution. The plan shall specify how the use of television in the education and training programs will improve inmates' preparedness for available work programs and job opportunities for which inmates may qualify upon release.
(8) The department shall adopt a plan to reduce the per-pupil cost of instruction by, among other methods, increasing the use of volunteer instructors and implementing technological efficiencies. The plan shall be adopted by December 1996 and shall be transmitted to the legislature upon adoption. The department shall, in adoption of the plan, consider distance learning, satellite instruction, video tape usage, computer-aided instruction, and flexible scheduling of offender instruction.
(9) Following completion of the review required by section 27(3), chapter 19, Laws of 1995 1st sp. sess. the department shall take all necessary steps to assure the vocation and education programs are relevant to work programs and skills necessary to enhance the employability of inmates upon release.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 4. The department of corrections and the Washington state board for community and technical colleges shall collaborate to find ways to implement distance learning programs and distance learning courses within programs, including the appropriate use of intranets, in the prisons. The department and the board shall consider ways to overcome traditional and technical barriers to distance learning and whether implementation of distance learning programs is cost-effective and shall report to the legislature by December 1, 2001.
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