PRESS RELEASE: The Washington State Department of Corrections Partners with the Vera Institute to Focus on Restricted Housing Reforms
Released May 16, 2019
TUMWATER – The Department of Corrections is excited to announce its partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice as it launches a new phase of restrictive housing reform, Safe Prisons, Safe Communities: From Isolation to Dignity and Wellness Behind Bars. Washington State was chosen through a competitive process due to its commitment to transparently and effectively implement reforms.
Restrictive housing includes administrative segregation and maximum custody and is a way for the department to temporarily segregate incarcerated individuals from the general facility population when an individual presents a risk to the safety and security of a facility or themselves in a general population setting.
"The Department is Corrections is honored to have been selected to partner with Vera on making further reductions and reforms to its segregation practices and policies,” said Secretary Steve Sinclair. “We made huge strides beginning in 2011 and since then have reduced the number of individuals assigned to maximum custody to half. We know there is more we can do and, along with Vera and Washington stakeholders, we will accomplish further reforms.”
Since the 2011 reforms instituted in partnership with Vera, the department has started group classrooms for programming within the restrictive housing population, eliminated the use of solitary confinement as a response to protecting incarcerated people from self-harm, partnered with Disability Rights Washington to hire an external consultant to review practices, and started a transition pod to safely transition individuals from segregation into general population.
“We’re encouraged by the commitment to reform we’ve seen in Washington, and look forward to entering this next phase of our movement towards improving the lives of those who live and work in our prisons,” said Sara Sullivan, project director at Vera.