The Washington State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation manages 12 incarceration facilities, 15 work release centers, 6 community justice centers and over 147 field office that help to maintain safety as convicts are released under community supervision.
The executive administration team of the DOC is headed by the secretary of the department who supervises a team of division managers and directors. Among the various divisions and programs of the Department of corrections are:
Community corrections: Officers of the community corrections division supervise almost 20,000 convicts who have been transferred to work release centers as well as those who have been introduced back into the community. The aim of this division is to rehabilitate the offenders while ensuring that members of the society are safe.
The community corrections division not only offer guidance and support to offenders who are just out of the Washington prison system but also those who have directly been sentenced to service in the community. This branch of the Department of correct ions also supports and collaborates with all private and government agencies that may have a vested interest in the successful rehabilitation of a convict after he/she has served time.
Health Services: This section of the DOC is responsible for providing basic health care for incarcerated offenders; this includes, dental, mental, medical and on site health facilities. All members of the Health Services division hold appropriate certifications and licenses that enable them to work with offenders.
Offender Change Division: Established so that prisoners have a fair chance at rehabilitation, the Offender Change division ensures the programs conducted in community justice centers, work release facilities and prisons yield the best possible outcome. This division is responsible for a host of programs and services including the classification of offenders based on their risk level, behavior etc; sex offender treatment, family services, chemical dependency treatment, cognitive behavioral interventions, educations and others.
All the programs have deliberately been placed under the supervision of one section to ensure that there is consistency in the various initiatives offered throughout the offender’s time in the prison system.
Correctional Industries: The concept of making prisoners work through their sentence is certainly not new; in fact, it holds a host of benefits for the inmates as well as the society at large. The Correctional Industries Division of the Washington State DOC takes this approach one step further by not only providing valuable employment experience to the convicts but also by supplying low cost and high quality goods to various state, local government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
From a rehabilitation point of view, the inmate gets marketable job skills from the program which makes the transition from the penitentiary to the community easier. Along with the commercial and life skills developed during the period of incarceration, inmates also gather some money by working which helps them to survive after release.
Community initiatives undertaken by the Washington Department of Corrections
The victim notification program: If a person has been the target of a crime, it is only natural to be wary of the presence of the perpetrator of the crime in the society.In fact, a lot of victims feel safer when they know the status of the convict who committed the criminal act. To this end, the Department of Corrections offers a victim notification facility, you merely have to enroll for the program on their website and you will be kept abreast of the movement of the inmate through the prison system along with his/her release and parole dates.
Community interactions: Not only the work release and community justice centers but also the Alternative Sentencing program is part of the community initiatives. Pursuant to the Washington Legislative Bill passed in 2010, two alternatives are offered to judicial sentencing to handle cases of non violent offenders who have minor children. These steps were taken in a bid to prevent the entry of new criminals in the system as statistics have revealed that children of incarcerated parents often find themselves on the wrong side of the law as they grow older.
Apart from these the Washington State Department of Corrections also provides the inmate search feature on their website that proves to be an invaluable tool for the friends and family of the convict as well as people interested in background checks.