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In May 2021, the Washington Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct a study of Washington State Patrol’s (WSP) Operation Net Nanny (“Net Nanny”). Net Nanny is a type of undercover law enforcement activity known as an “internet sting operation.” WSP detectives designed Net Nanny to arrest adults who use the internet to solicit sexual activity with minors.
The legislative assignment outlined two objectives for WSIPP’s study. First, the study must describe the current research on internet sting operations. Second, the study must include an analysis that compares the characteristics of individuals convicted through Net Nanny with individuals convicted of child sex offenses through other avenues.
To address the first objective, we reviewed the academic literature on internet sting operations. However, we found limited research on this topic. It is unclear whether these operations are effective at deterring or reducing crime.
To address the second objective, we compiled administrative data on all adults in Washington State who were convicted of child sex crimes since Net Nanny has been active. We used this data to compare two groups: (1) individuals arrested via Net Nanny; and (2) individuals who were arrested through traditional police tactics. We found that individuals in both groups exhibit similar demographic characteristics and criminal history. On average, across these specific measures, individuals convicted through Net Nanny resemble people convicted of completed sexual crimes against minors.
In November 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalized limited possession, private use, and commercial sales of cannabis for adults. In this report, we describe the evolution of cannabis-related policy, revenues, and expenditures over the past decade.
We first describe the implementation of I-502 and summarize major cannabis-related policy milestones through the fiscal year 2022. In addition, we detail aspects of the Washington cannabis market structure and regulatory rules and compare components of non-medical cannabis (NMC) legalization nationwide. Second, we describe cannabis-related sales, excise tax revenues, and spending of those revenues over the last decade. In fiscal year 2022, cannabis retailers sold nearly $1.4 billion in cannabis products, and just over half a billion dollars were generated in excise tax revenues. Most of these revenues are transferred to the general fund and state basic health plan trust, and less than 20% goes to state agencies for prevention, healthcare, research, and cannabis industry oversight. Since fiscal year 2016, this distribution of expenditures has not significantly changed, although the total dollar amount of cannabis-related revenue and expenditure has nearly tripled.
In the Early Start Act of 2015, the Washington State Legislature required child care and early learning providers who serve non-school-aged children and receive state subsidies to participate in Early Achievers (EA), the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). The Early Achievers program was intended to improve access to high-quality care for low-income families and other groups.
In this report, we examine low-income family access to subsidized child care, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Programming (ECEAP), or Head Start programming that has met Early Achiever’s quality standards as of 2019, at the end of the initial Early Achievers roll out. Our estimates indicate that, on average in Washington in 2019, there are roughly three low-income children nearby for each high-quality publicly supported child care/early learning “slot.” Across the state, we find considerable variation in local access to child care that has met EA quality standards. However, we do not find large differences in average access across the following neighborhood comparisons: urban/rural regionality, majority/minority BIPOC population makeup, or higher/lower vulnerability designation.
This report—along with a concurrent analysis of benefits and costs of EA—concludes WSIPP’s Early Achievers evaluation series.
In the Early Start Act of 2015, the Washington State Legislature required child care and early learning providers who serve non-school-aged children and receive state subsidies to participate in Early Achievers (EA), the state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). This legislation also directed WSIPP to examine the relationship between EA quality ratings and long-term outcomes for children who participate in state-subsidized child care and early learning programs. WSIPP was required to produce annual reports to the legislature from December 2019 through December 2022; the final report must include a benefit-cost analysis of EA.
We previously found that attending a site meeting EA quality standards in the pre-kindergarten year was associated with better outcomes in kindergarten, compared with attending a rated site that did not yet meet standards. In this fourth report, we focus on projected monetary benefits tied to those outcomes. On average, attending an EA quality Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) or child care center may return benefits of approximately $4,300 to $7,000 per child over the course of the lifespan. Analysis of aligned program costs was limited by data availability.
This report—along with a concurrent report examining low-income families’ access to publicly funded EA quality child care and early learning—concludes WSIPP’s Early Achievers evaluation series.
The 2021 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to study legal financial obligations (LFOs). This is the second report in a two-part series.
For the final report, WSIPP used administrative data from multiple Washington State sources to describe the level of criminal LFO impositions, adjustments, and payments made annually at all court levels.
Additionally, WSIPP completed the following:
We found that available LFO data are limited. As a result, patterns in the data over time cannot be identified. Further, the data do not allow us to trace dollars from the collection to expenditure. More consistent data collection and reporting across courts may assist efforts to identify patterns over time in the future. A preliminary report covering LFO background, state statutes that impose LFOs, and a 50-state review of court funding and LFOs was released in December 2021 and can be found here.
This is the second report in a two-part series focused on wilderness therapy programs. Wilderness therapy combines therapeutic elements with outdoor activities in a natural setting to help support individuals with a range of behavioral, emotional, and substance use issues.
In 2021, the Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to research wilderness therapy programs in the context of behavioral health treatment and prevention. As part of this assignment, we were asked to assess the “interest and likelihood of support” for wilderness therapy programs among interest groups like “state prevention coalitions and tribes.” We interviewed ten individuals representing a variety of stakeholder perspectives in Washington.
Generally, we found that interview respondents view wilderness therapy as potentially beneficial for the individuals they serve or those who live in their communities. However, we found that most respondents had concerns about cost, safety, access, and the lack of information about programs. Respondents also expressed wanting legislators to be aware of issues related to program flexibility, equitable access, and ongoing outreach if they consider policy decisions related to wilderness therapy in the future.
The first report on this topic was published in June 2022 and can be found here.
The 2021 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to study the economic and environmental impacts of a Buy American Steel policy in the state. Such a policy would require that steel used in the fulfillment of Washington State government contracts be partially or exclusively sourced from within the US. This report describes the findings from two economic analyses: a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) and an economic impacts analysis (EIA).
The BCA finds that the increase in cost to taxpayers to carry out projects under a domestic steel requirement would likely exceed new income to workers in the Washington steel industry, but net changes to the state economy would be small. The EIA finds that the requirement would support jobs in the steel industry, but the increased cost to taxpayers would lead to job losses in other sectors. Like the BCA, the net changes predicted by the EIA are small, ranging from a loss of 12 to a gain of 13 jobs per year statewide under a domestic steel requirement.
We also conduct an analysis of how the policy would impact global emissions of greenhouse gases. While the net change in emissions is ambiguous, this analysis suggests that the change in emissions could only range from a decrease of 1.2% to an increase of 1.6% of steel production-generated emissions in Washington.
The 2021 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to review the research for any relationships between adolescent substance use and adolescent nutrition on subsequent mental illness in early adulthood.
For substance use, we found that adolescent alcohol use was associated with an increased risk of later depression. Adolescent cannabis use was associated with an increased risk for depression and psychosis, but we found no evidence that adolescent misuse of opioids or cocaine is associated with mental illness in young adults.
For nutrition, we found that higher quality diet in adolescence was associated with a lower risk for later depression. Obesity during adolescence was associated with an increased risk for depression in young adults, especially in females. Finally, we found no evidence of a link between adolescent intake of omega-3 fatty acids and any mental illness in young adulthood.
In Washington State, individuals convicted of certain offenses may be eligible to receive a sentencing alternative called the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA). Established in 1995 and modified several times over the last 25 years, DOSA allows individuals to serve some or all of their standard prison sentence under community supervision instead of spending the entire sentence incarcerated. This sentencing alternative requires that individuals participate in substance use treatment programs based on their assessed needs and comply with behavioral requirements while incarcerated and/or during community supervision.
In 2020, the Washington State Legislature further expanded DOSA and directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to analyze its effectiveness in reducing recidivism compared to standard sentencing. The directive requires WSIPP to update its evaluation in 2028 and every five years thereafter. This report introduces the forthcoming report series by describing the development of DOSA over time and reviewing prior evaluations of DOSA’s effectiveness.
In Washington State, some individuals convicted of a criminal offense may be eligible to receive a Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA) in lieu of the standard incarceration sentence.
Using administrative data from the Department of Corrections and WSIPP’s Criminal History Database, this study examined whether individuals participating in prison or residential DOSA were less likely to recidivate compared to similar individuals who received a non-DOSA sentence.
Our findings indicate the prison DOSA reduces the likelihood of recidivism by 6.9 percentage points. These reductions in recidivism were consistent across subgroups by sex, race, and ethnicity.
Our findings for residential DOSA were less conclusive. In general, residential DOSA had no effect on the likelihood of recidivism compared to a standard sentence. While we provide several potential explanations for the differences in the effectiveness of prison and residential DOSA, future research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which the two DOSA programs impact individuals’ outcomes, including recidivism.