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The 1990 Legislature directed the Institute to evaluate the effectiveness of the Community Protection Act. As part of this evaluation, the Institute contracted in 1997 with the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC) at Washington State University to conduct telephone interviews with a sample of Washington State residents regarding the community notification provisions of the Community Protection Act.
In 2007, the Institute again contracted with SESRC to conduct a nearly identical survey and learn how responses may have changed. The results from both surveys indicate that the vast majority of Washington State residents are familiar with Washington’s community notification law and consider the law very important.
In 1999, legislation was passed to better identify and provide additional mental health treatment for mentally ill offenders who were released from prison, who pose a threat to public safety, and agree to participate in the program. A “Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender” (DMIO) is defined by the legislation as a person with a mental disorder who has been determined to be dangerous to self or others.
As part of its legislative mandate, the Institute has published a series of reports that evaluate the DMIO program. Reports published in 2005 and 2007 demonstrated that the DMIO program significantly reduced felony recidivism, and this 2008 follow-up report finds that reductions in felony recidivism were sustained at the 3-year mark. The benefit-cost analysis in this report indicates that the reductions in DMIO recidivism generated greater financial benefits than program costs.
The Institute was directed by the 2002 Legislature to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug offense sentencing grid implemented in 2003. This preliminary report discusses changes in the sentencing grid and outlines our research design for the final report due in December 2008. In the final report, we will evaluate the effectiveness of the drug offense grid on recidivism and determine the financial impacts.
The 2007 Legislature directed the Institute to evaluate whether participation in Washington’s work release facilities impacts key outcomes, such as recidivism. The Institute was also directed to conduct a comprehensive review of all research evidence on work releases.
In 2005, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) obtained grant funding and contracted with the Institute to conduct an audit of Washington State's criminal history records systems for adult felonies. Databases included in the audit are from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Department of Corrections (DOC), Sentencing Guidelines Commission (SGC), and Washington State Patrol (WSP). The audit focuses on the completeness and accuracy of Washington's criminal history data system.
Our findings demonstrate that, although the state's criminal justice databases are not 100 percent accurate and complete, they are reasonably accurate. The databases can be improved by relying on: fingerprints for offender identification, electronic transmission of data without manual intervention, and a multi-agency criminal records work group to implement improvements.
Nine states have statutes that authorize the confinement and treatment of highly dangerous sex offenders following completion of their criminal sentence: Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin. These laws are commonly referred to as “sexual predator” laws. Other statutes authorize commitment and treatment for sex offenders as an alternative to sentencing. This paper reviews the four principle categories of civil commitment laws for dangerous sex offenders. Summaries of individual state statutes are also included.
In 1990, the Washington State Legislature passed a new form of involuntary commitment for sex offenders identified as “sexually violent predators” (SVPs). This law permits the state to retain custody of individuals found by a judge or jury to pose risks for reoffending.
This report updates the Institute’s 2005 study, “Involuntary Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators: Comparing State Laws,” and compares the now 20 states that have enacted or are planning to implement SVP laws. The 2005 report covered data through 2004; this report extends the timeframe through 2006 and includes information on the number of residents, discharges, and program costs.
This report explores the views of child victims and their parents in sex offense cases from three Washington State counties: Benton, King, and Snohomish. All offenses were eligible for the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA), a sentencing option that incorporates a jail sentence followed by outpatient treatment and supervision.
The 2007 Legislature established a pilot program called Community Transition Coordination Networks for offenders reentering the community from confinement (ESSB 6157). The Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) was tasked to review county proposals and select up to four CTCN pilot projects to receive grant funding. The Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, by September 1, 2007, to recommend criteria for assisting CTED during the grant review process.
In 1975, the Washington State Legislature established a deferred prosecution option for offenders arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or impairing drugs (DUI). This option was intended to encourage individuals to seek appropriate treatment. Under this option, defendants with a significant alcohol or drug dependence problem may petition the court to defer disposition of their charge until they have completed intensive substance dependence treatment and met other conditions required by the court.
Another option invoked to encourage treatment is prosecutor diversion, which allows the court to maintain supervision over defendants and impose conditions, including treatment and victim restitution.
In 2005, the legislature authorized the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to use federal funds to contract with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) to evaluate the impact on recidivism of deferred prosecution, including prosecutor diversion, for DUI cases. In addition, this report examines whether DUI recidivism rates changed after 1998, when legislation was passed limiting eligibility and lengthening the supervision period for the deferred prosecution program.