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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.