HB 1338
As Reported by House Committee On:
Postsecondary Education & Workforce
Title: An act relating to education and vocational programs in state correctional institutions.
Brief Description: Concerning education and vocational programs in state correctional institutions.
Sponsors: Representatives Reeves, Waters, Walen, Senn, Simmons, Kloba, Reed, Lekanoff, Gregerson, Doglio, Tharinger, Springer, Fosse, Davis and Orwall.
Brief History:
Committee Activity:
Postsecondary Education & Workforce: 1/25/23, 2/17/23 [DPS].
Brief Summary of Substitute Bill
  • Changes requirements relating to postsecondary education programs at state correctional institutions.
  • Changes membership requirements of the Correctional Industries Advisory Committee.
Majority Report: The substitute bill be substituted therefor and the substitute bill do pass.Signed by 14 members:Representatives Slatter, Chair; Entenman, Vice Chair; Reed, Vice Chair; Ybarra, Ranking Minority Member; Waters, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Chandler, Hansen, Jacobsen, Klicker, Leavitt, McEntire, Pollet, Schmidt and Timmons.
Staff: Jim Morishima (786-7191).

Postsecondary Education Programs in State Institutions.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) may implement postsecondary degree or certificate programs at state correctional institutions.  Programs that may be considered for inclusion include any education program from an institution of higher education, up to a bachelor's degree, and state-recognized apprenticeship programs. 
The DOC may select an incarcerated individual to participate in a postsecondary education program based on priority criteria determined by the DOC.  Priority should be given to incarcerated individuals who do not already possess a postsecondary education degree and individuals with reentry plans that include participation in a postsecondary degree or certificate program that is offered at the individuals' correctional institutions, approved by the DOC as eligible and effective, and limited to a postsecondary degree or certificate program.
The DOC pays the cost of educational programming that achieves a high school diploma or high school equivalent certificate, vocational skills necessary for purposes of work programs or to qualify for work upon release, and additional work and education programs necessary for compliance with an individual reentry plan.  The incarcerated individual may be required to pay all or part of the costs of all other educational programming.
In determining whether to transfer an incarcerated individual to a different facility, the DOC must consider whether the individual is enrolled in a vocational or educational program, which will not be continued at the receiving facility.  The DOC must work with the individual's case manager, counselor, education navigator, or other appropriate person to attempt to meet the needs of the DOC and the individual regarding the transfer.  A third party must provide payments for postsecondary education programming to the DOC. 

The Correctional Industries Advisory Committee.
The Correctional Industries Advisory Committee (Committee) makes recommendations to the DOC on the Correctional Industries Program.  The Committee consists of nine voting members and four nonvoting legislative members.  The nine voting members must include three representatives from labor, three representatives from business, and three members from the general public.  The business members must represent cross sections of industries and all sizes of employers.

Summary of Substitute Bill:

Postsecondary Education Programs in State Institutions.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) may give priority to program participants based on earliest release date, but no more than 67 percent of program participants may be prioritized in this manner.  If programming that is eligible for financial aid is provided, a participant may be required to apply for and utilize any federal or state financial aid grants.  If the costs of attendance exceed the grant award, or the person is not eligible for financial aid or is unable to apply, the DOC must pay the cost of attendance.  A third party may provide the requirement payments directly to the DOC.

The DOC must, in its postsecondary education programs, provide access to a direct transfer associate degree as a pathway of employment in living wage career fields or as a transfer degree to a baccalaureate degree.  The DOC, in consultation with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, must identify direct transfer agreement courses as common courses throughout the community and technical colleges to avoid difficulties in transferring credits.  "Direct transfer agreement" means a degree awarded by a community or technical college to students who have completed a transfer curriculum to fulfill most general education requirements for purposes of a baccalaureate degree.  
The Correctional Industries Advisory Committee.
The business members of the Correctional Industries Advisory Committee must represent businesses that employ formerly incarcerated individuals.

Substitute Bill Compared to Original Bill:

The substitute bill:

  • allows individuals participating in postsecondary education programs at state correctional institutions to apply for and utilize federal and state financial aid;
  • allows the Department of Corrections (DOC) to accept third-party payments for postsecondary education and allows, rather than requires, such third parties to provide payments directly to the DOC;
  • requires the DOC to provide access to direct transfer associate degrees, otherwise known as associate's degrees;
  • reduces the cap on the number of individuals who may be prioritized for participation by release date from 90 percent to 67 percent;
  • removes the requirement that the DOC consult with an individual's educational program prior to transfer;
  • removes the 50 percent participation goal for the postsecondary education program; and
  • removes the requirement that the DOC prioritize programs that result in vocational credentials or qualifications for living wage jobs once an individual is released from incarceration.
Appropriation: None.
Fiscal Note: Available.  New fiscal note requested on February 19, 2023.
Effective Date of Substitute Bill: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony:

(In support) This bill is about restorative justice.  People should have the opportunity to pay their debts to society, come back to their communities, reenter the workforce, and put rooves over their families' heads.  This bill dovetails with past legislation.  The state has made progress toward this goal, but there are still some challenges that need to be addressed.  Our values and goals should align with the way postsecondary education programs are implemented. 
Being employed is an important element of reducing recidivism.  Investments in education and training create significant financial returns and prevent crime.  These programs are funded by taxpayer dollars, so attention must be paid to return on investment.  Individuals are released from incarceration, but do not have the education and training to get a credential.  This creates a barrier to employment.  If people start in low-wage jobs, they stay in low-wage jobs.  Conversely, it is easier to progress to higher wages if you start there and education helps people to do this.  An associate's degree is the only pathway to a bachelor's degree.  This bill is not prescriptive, but creates a goal to get individuals licensed or certified after release.
Transfer orders can get in the way of education completion.  Often transfers are done without consultation with the educational program, which can adversely affect academic standing and financial aid.  Consultation should be required before a transfer.
(Opposed) None.

Persons Testifying: Representative Kristine Reeves, prime sponsor; Pat Seibert-Love and Hanan Al-Zubaidy, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges; and Vicki Christophersen, Justice Action Network.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: None.