Washington State Institute for Public Policy
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October 2015
The 2013 Washington State Legislature directed WSIPP to develop a risk assessment for patients in the state’s involuntary mental health treatment system.

In Washington State, formal risk assessments have been used to predict the risk of criminal recidivism among juvenile and adult offenders. This report finds that the existing Static Risk Assessment (SRA), used by courts and corrections in Washington for criminal populations, can also serve as a valid tool for determining the level of risk for adults with involuntary civil commitments and forensic competency evaluations. Results indicate that the adapted SRA described in this report has reasonable predictive accuracy for both the civil and forensic populations.
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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.
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February 2014
The 2009 Legislature required the Department of Corrections (DOC) to use a risk assessment, recommended by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), which has the highest predictive accuracy for recidivism.

To complete this task, WSIPP employed a systematic research approach. We reviewed the research literature on risk assessments and found five that have been tested on adult offenders in Washington. Among the five options, our review indicates that, to date, the Static Risk and Offender Needs Guide-Revised (STRONG-R) has the highest predictive accuracy of criminal recidivism.
Download: Final Report
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December 2013
The 2013 Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to (1) develop definitions for “evidence-based” and “research-based” and (2) create an inventory of evidence-based and research-based programs to be used by the Department of Corrections.

This report contains WSIPP’s definitions as well as an inventory of evidence-based and research-based programs for adult corrections.
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November 2013
Since the 1990s, the Washington State legislature has directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to identify policies with an “evidence-based” track record of improving certain public policy outcomes. Outcomes of interest have included, among others, education, child welfare, crime, and mental health.

This report updates and extends WSIPP’s list of well-researched policies that reduce crime. We display our current tabulation of evidence-based prevention, juvenile justice, and adult corrections programs, and we include our initial reviews of prison sentencing and policing.

As with our previous lists, we find that a number of public policies can reduce crime and are likely to have benefits that exceed costs. We also find credible evidence that some policies do not reduce crime and are likely to have costs that exceed benefits. The legislature has previously used this type of information to craft policy and budget bills. This updated list is designed to help with subsequent budgets and policy legislation.
Download: Full Report
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August 2013
Washington State Legislature passed a bill directing the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to 1) review the research literature on treatment for domestic violence offenders and other interventions effective at reducing recidivism; 2) survey states’ laws regarding domestic violence treatment for offenders; and 3) analyze recidivism rates of domestic violence offenders in Washington. Findings were published earlier this year on the first two tasks. In this report, we complete the legislative assignment and describe the recidivism rates of domestic violence offenders in Washington.
Download: Full Report
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January 2013
Washington State law provides for indefinite civil commitment of persons found to meet criteria as sexually violent predators (SVPs). The Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island houses persons who are detained and/or committed as SVPs. The Institute was directed to study several aspects of SCC. Major findings include:

Releases: As of CY 2012, 86 residents have been released from SCC.

Treatment: 37% of residents actively participate in sex offense treatment.

Annual Reviews: A survey of legal practitioners revealed concerns about the timeliness of reviews, with mixed reports regarding the quality.

Senior Clinical Team: SCC’s group of senior clinicians and managers plays a key role in residents’ treatment progression and decision-making regarding readiness for a less restrictive alternative. Some practitioners in the legal community expressed confusion and/or concern about the team’s role.

Less Restrictive Alternatives: Confinement at the state’s Secure Community Transition facilities costs significantly more than confinement at the main facility.

The report includes a response from the Special Commitment Center.

Revised on 1/28/2013 to modify Exhibits 1 and 17.
Download: Full Report
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January 2013
The 2012 Legislature directed the Institute, in collaboration with the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission and experts on domestic violence, to update its analysis of the literature on domestic violence (DV) treatment. We were also directed to 1) report on other treatments and programs for DV offenders and the general offender population; 2) survey other states to study how misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases are handled; and 3) report recidivism rates for DV offenders in Washington. This first report summarizes our findings regarding DV treatment and other programs and treatments.
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January 2013
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) was directed by the 2012 Legislature to “study and report to the legislature the benefit of standardizing treatment protocols used for restoring competency to stand trial in Washington, and during what clinically appropriate time period said treatment might be expected to be effective.”

To conduct this work, the Institute contracted with a national expert in the field, Dr. Patricia Zapf. This report provides background on the types of interventions (treatments) used throughout the United States for the restoration of competency to stand trial, and research regarding the timelines for restoration. In addition, data on length of stay at Eastern State Hospital and Western State Hospital for incompetent defendants remanded for competence restoration are summarized.
Download: Full Report
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December 2012
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy was directed by the 2012 Legislature to review whether chemical dependency treatment in the adult and juvenile justice systems reduces crime and substance abuse. The Institute was also asked to estimate the monetary benefits and costs of these programs.

We conducted a systematic review of research studies to determine if, on average, these programs have been shown to reduce crime. To narrow our review of this vast literature, we focused on the type of chemical dependency programs funded by Washington taxpayers.

We located 55 unique studies with sufficient research rigor to include in our review. Programs for adult offenders have been evaluated more frequently than for juveniles. Of the 55 studies, 45 evaluated treatments delivered to adults while only 10 were for juveniles.

Our findings indicate a variety of chemical dependency treatments are effective at reducing crime. Recidivism is reduced by 4-9%. Some programs also have benefits that substantially exceed costs.

We found that community case management for adult substance abusers has a larger effect when coupled with “swift and certain.” This finding is consistent with an emerging trend in the criminal justice literature—that swiftness and certainty of punishment has a larger deterrent effect than the severity of punishment.
Download: Full Report
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110 FIFTH AVENUE SE, SUITE 214
P O BOX 40999
OLYMPIA, WA 98504
 
360.664.9800
institute@wsipp.wa.gov