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Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Effectiveness of the drug offender sentencing alternative (DOSA)

The 2020 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to evaluate the effectiveness of the drug offender sentencing alternative (DOSA). DOSA allows individuals to participate in treatment and community supervision in lieu of some (Prison DOSA) or all (Residential DOSA) of their incarceration sentence. This evaluation will examine whether participation in DOSA reduces recidivism and whether those effects vary for prison- and residential-based DOSA programs. The legislature directed WSIPP to repeat these evaluations on a regular schedule to continuously monitor the effects of the program.

An initial evaluation report is due to the governor and the legislature by November 1, 2022. Additional evaluation reports are due to the governor and the legislature on November 1, 2028, and every five years thereafter.
Lauren Knoth-Peterson, (360) 664-9805 View Legislation

Legal Financial Obligations

In Washington, whenever a person is convicted in superior court, the court may order the payment of a legal financial obligation (LFO) as part of the sentence. The 2021 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to study legal financial obligations in Washington State. WSIPP’s reports must explore the following:

  • Over the past three years, the amount of legal and financial obligations imposed; the total amounts outstanding and the total amounts collected annually, including annual collection rates; including all restitution, costs, fees, fines, penalty assessments, and interest, disaggregated;
  • Which statutes allow for the imposition of legal and financial obligations;
  • What percentage of a court’s budget has been supported by legal and financial obligations since the system’s inception;
  • The programs funded by legal financial obligations; and
  • How do other states fund their court system including, but not limited to, whether they use legal financial obligations to provide support;

A preliminary report report was released in December 2021. The final report is due December 1, 2022.

Paige Wanner, (360) 664-9078 View Legislation

Creating Prison to Postsecondary Education Pathways

The 2021 Legislature passed 2SHB 1044 expanding the types of postsecondary education programs eligible for state funding in the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) incarceration facilities. The bill directs WSIPP to study recidivism, enrollment, and completion rates of incarcerated persons in the postsecondary education system after release from incarceration. The study will use data from DOC, the Washington Student Achievement Council, and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. The study must include the following:

  • Patterns and effects on post-release enrollment and participation in the community and technical college sector by individuals who, while incarcerated, participated in postsecondary education;
  • Differential outcomes for individuals participating in different types of postsecondary education courses, certificates, and degree programs;
  • Changes in enrollment and completion of postsecondary education courses, certificate programs, and degree programs due to the expansion in postsecondary education programming; and
  • Recidivism outcomes other than incarceration for those individuals who participated in postsecondary education while incarcerated.

A preliminary report is due to the Legislature on October 1, 2024, and a final report is due October 1, 2027.

Julia Cramer, (360) 664-9073 View Legislation

Evaluation of the Reentry Community Services Program

The 2021 Legislature passed E2SSB 5304 which modified the state’s Reentry Community Services (RCS) program. The bill includes an assignment for WSIPP to update its evaluation of the RCS program and to broaden its benefit-cost analysis to include impacts on the use of public services and other factors. In addition, the bill directs WSIPP to examine the potential cost, benefit, and risks involved in expanding or replicating the RCS program. Finally, the bill asks WSIPP to examine what modifications to the program are most likely to improve outcomes associated with program participation based on current knowledge about evidence-based, research-based, and promising programs. WSIPP will consult with the Reentry Services Work Group (administered by the Health Care Association) in 2022 to determine any additional research parameters for the final report.

A preliminary report was originally due to the Legislature by July 1, 2022. In December 2021, the WSIPP Board of Directors voted to shift the preliminary report deadline to November 1, 2022. A final report is due November 1, 2023.

Lauren Knoth-Peterson, (360) 664-9805 View Legislation

Operation Net Nanny and Other Fictitious Victim Sting Operations

The 2021 Legislature directed WSIPP to examine Washington State’s Operation Net Nanny and similar fictitious victim sting operations. Operation Net Nanny is a collaborative undercover operation that includes local, state, and federal law enforcement targeting the arrest and prosecution of individuals involved in child abuse and exploitation using the Internet by using a fictitious victim. The study must include the following:

  • A description of the current research on fictitious victim sting operations, including evidence of their effectiveness in deterring or reducing crime, their costs, and potential advantages or drawbacks of their use in crime prevention; and
  • A comparison of the characteristics of individuals convicted as a result of Washington’s Operation Net Nanny stings with individuals convicted in Washington State of similar offenses who were not a part of Operation Net Nanny.

A final report was originally due to the Legislature by June 30, 2022. In December 2021, the WSIPP Board of Directors voted to shift the deadline to June 30, 2023.

Corey Whichard, (360) 664-9075 View Legislation

Exclusive Adult Jurisdiction

The 2018 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to assess the impact of changes to the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), as outlined in E2SSB 6160. To the extent possible, the study should include impacts to community safety, racial disproportionality, recidivism, state expenditures, and youth rehabilitation.

The 2019 Legislature amended WSIPP’s assignment to include an assessment of additional components contained in Sections 2-6 of E2SHB 1646. WSIPP must also conduct a benefit-cost analysis which includes the health impacts and recidivism effects of extending the JJA to include all offenses committed under the age of twenty-one.

A preliminary report is due to the legislature by December 1, 2023 with a final report due December 1, 2031.
Lauren Knoth-Peterson, (360) 664-9805 View Legislation

Evaluation of Washington's Housing Voucher Program

In 2022, the Washington State Legislature passed 2SHB 1818, which expanded the use of rental vouchers for individuals leaving incarceration in state prisons from three to six months. As a part of this bill, the Legislature directed WSIPP to conduct an evaluation and benefit-cost analysis of Washington’s Housing Voucher Program, accounting for the new expansion to six months. The assignment directs WSIPP to consider not only recidivism outcomes, but also impacts on homelessness, use of public services, and other factors WSIPP deems relevant.

A final report is due to the governor and the Legislature by November 1, 2025.
Lauren Knoth-Peterson, (360) 664-9805 View Legislation

Evaluation of DOC Community Services Experiment

After individuals are transferred out of incarceration to partial confinement or released to the community, case managers refer these individuals to reentry service providers. The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) is conducting an experiment to examine methods to increase access to community providers to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. WSIPP’s Board of Directors approved a contract with DOC for WSIPP to evaluate this experiment. The final report is due December 1, 2025.
Lauren Knoth-Peterson, (360) 664-9805