Keep People Safe | Decrease Rate of Violence by Incarcerated Individuals at Prison and Reentry Centers
Reducing violence within prisons creates safer environments for employees and incarcerated individuals. Less violence enhances the rehabilitative environment within prisons and mitigates interruption of services for both staff and incarcerated individuals.
The department continues to involve employees and advisory committees in safety, security, and risk mitigation. Our emphasis is on reducing contraband and gang-related activities, data driven strategies tailored to facilities and individuals, and engaging the incarcerated population to help reduce violence.
How We Measure
The Department of Corrections strives to decrease the rate of violence from 0.93 per 100 incarcerated individuals to 0.90 per 100 incarcerated individuals in prison facilities by 2022.
This statistic describes the average monthly number of violence related disciplinary hearings with “guilty” findings per 100 incarcerated individuals, averaged over the previous six months.
The infractions included in this measure are: 502 – Aggravated Assault on another incarcerated individual, 505 – Fighting, 602 – Possession of a weapon, 604 – Aggravated assault on a staff member, 611 – Sexual assault on a staff member, 633 – Assault on another incarcerated individual, 635 – Sexual assault on another incarcerated individual, and 704 – Assault on a staff member.
Rate of Violence
Factors that Drive Violence
Contraband, illicit drugs in particular, can increase the risk of violence in confinement. The National Institute of Justice include several articles that relate the control of contraband in prison settings to the prevention of violence as well as drug abuse and new crimes.
Gang activity is often a cause of violent incidents, especially those resulting in injuries. Gangs (also called Security Threat Groups STGs) often encourage their members to engage in violence for various reasons. Gangs have been a persistent challenge in our nation and Washington's prisons are no exception.
Social pressure can cause violence if the incarcerated individual feels it's necessary to maintain status or support their associates. Because there is social pressure to engage in violence, either to attack your gang's enemies, or to come to the defense of a fellow gang member, a fight can expand to involve many combatants very rapidly. These multi-person fights have been specifically targeted for reduction due to the increased risk of injury for all involved.
Actions Being Taken to Deliver Results
- The Department of Corrections' Group Violence Reduction Strategy invests incarcerated individuals in reducing violent incidents that are most likely to cause serious injury like weapon use, assaults on staff, and fights between more than two people. In facilities where the program has been established, there were measured reductions in the first year after implementation up to 83% in the targeted violent behaviors.
- Each year, the Prisons Division takes an intensive look at data relating to violence and its causal factors, and tailors the following year's training to address those statistical trends.
- A collection of multidisciplinary teams from across the state, called Security Advisory Committees, meet regularly and advise the Secretary of Corrections of emerging security and violence problems, and recommend mitigation steps.
- The department has purchased drug scanners to mitigate illicit drugs and contraband, which are a causal factor for violence.