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Community Facilities for Juvenile Offenders in Washington State

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1998
67 pages
This article discusses the effect of the revision of State laws in Washington in 1998 regarding Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) facilities, an examination of each facility's operation and security procedures, a review of recidivism rates of certain juvenile offenders, and a feasiblity analysis of statewide standards for detention facilities.
The capacity of 22 community facilities that had procedural changes enacted by State policy makers and JRA administrators to strengthen their emphasis on public safety was studied. A survey was conducted for this study to determine community perceptions and involved extensive consultation with stakeholders such as community facility neighbors, law enforcement, courts, schools, and employers. A positive assessment of the facilities was the result, with 12 of 22 facilities being surveyed. Significant changes related to public safety were implemented in the day-to-day operations related to security, staffing, and operations of the facilities. Some positive results reported included 50 percent fewer escapes from the facilities in a 1-year period, and risk assessments being conducted by a team to reduce error and/or omissions in their reports. Facility staff were surveyed from July 1996 to June 1997 to investigate the statewide patterns of crimes committed by facility residents. A study of the management of residents revealed that JRA offenders were easier to manage than other juveniles such as dependent children. In terms of JRA monitoring of community facilities, four steps were identified as needed to reduce the public safety risks including upgrade of facility security, addition of a night staff person to State-run facilities, revision of the reporting form for violations and infractions, and a revision of the referral process involved in offender intake, assessment, and placement. In 1998, the legislature created community oversight committees to improve public safety and accountability. Alternative models for the committees were assessed with two methods being identified, the advisory model or the quality assurance model. It is noted, that if committees can meet frequently and take action promptly either model can be effective.