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Washington's Residential Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative: Recidivism & Cost Analysis

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Elizabeth Drake, Danielle Fumia, Lijian He - December 2014

The 2014 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to examine the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA) for offenders sentenced to residential treatment in the community.

Residential DOSA was created by the 2005 Legislature as an alternative to prison for offenders with substance abuse problems. When ordered by a court, an offender’s sentence is reduced in exchange for completing chemical dependency treatment.

When possible, WSIPP conducts benefit-cost analysis to understand the long-term impacts of policies. In addition to residential DOSA’s effect on recidivism, research indicates that crime is avoided through confinement, known as “incapacitation.” We cannot empirically estimate the extent to which a residential treatment facility itself incapacitates offenders. Thus, we are unable to determine the degree to which the benefits from the favorable recidivism reduction of residential DOSA would be offset by the increased costs of non-confinement.

Report ID: 14-12-1901
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