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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
January 2002
In 1999, the Legislature passed the Offender Accountability Act (OAA). Fundamentally, the OAA concerns economics; that is, it affects how the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) spends its budget. It directs DOC to focus more resources on higher-risk offenders and - because state agency budgets must balance - to spend fewer dollars on lower-risk offenders. The Institute was directed by the Legislature to “conduct a study of the effect of the use of community custody…on recidivism and other outcomes.” In this report, we evaluate the implementation of one cornerstone of the OAA: the formal process DOC is using to assess the risk levels of offenders - DOC’s “Risk Management Identification” (RMI) system. This report tests the degree to which the RMI system measures what the Legislature intended. We analyzed the first substantial group of offenders classified by DOC. We found that DOC’s RMI system does a reasonable job of classifying offenders pursuant to the policy directives of the OAA.
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