Gov. Jay Inslee today, in recognition of National Reentry Week, signed an executive order to better support the successful transition of people leaving prison and returning to their communities. Inslee was joined by community leaders and formerly incarcerated people at today’s signing at FareStart in Seattle.
“One of the most significant public safety investments we can make to improve the lives of individuals and the safety of our communities is to do more to prepare people leaving our criminal justice system for a successful re-entry to society,” Inslee said.
Approximately 17,000 people are incarcerated in Washington state prisons and about 95 percent will return to their communities. Fifty percent of those men and women are parents. The executive order, “Building Safe and Strong Communities through Successful Reentry,” directs state agencies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety with stronger transition programs, so more men and women can build lives based on jobs rather than on crime. This includes:
- Directing the Department of Corrections and juvenile rehabilitation to develop a reentry-focused orientation program for every individual as they enter a correctional facility and when they leave;
- Directing the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, the Washington Student Achievement Council, the Washington Apprenticeship and Training Council and Labor and Industries to develop a statewide correctional post-secondary education and apprenticeship plan; and
- Tasking the Department of Commerce to build a corporate outreach plan with Correctional Industries to identify workforce needs that can be met with appropriately trained individuals with criminal backgrounds.
One of Inslee’s Results Washington goals is to increase six-month post-incarceration employment from 30 percent to 40 percent by 2017.
Other reentry steps include making sure all offenders are issued a state ID card upon leaving a state correctional facility and suspending rather than terminating certain health care and social service benefits during the time an offender is incarcerated. Washington has already removed some employment barriers such as adopting a “ban the box” policy that increases state employment opportunities for applicants with criminal records.
“It just makes sense to support people as they transition from prison back into the community,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “We all win when we lower recidivism, increase public safety, and restore hope for formerly incarcerated people to become community assets.”