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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.