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PRESS RELEASE: Department of Corrections Receives Gender Informed Practices Assessment

Released August 15, 2022

Contact Tobby Hatley

Communications Office

TUMWATER – The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) is pleased to announce they are in receipt of the long-awaited Gender Informed Practices Assessment (GIPA) (pdf) conducted by national experts. The GIPA is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates identifies where there are areas of opportunity to develop a more robust gender responsive program within the newly created women’s prison division and takes a compressive systemic look at women’s prison practices, from admission to release.

This assessment was originally set to begin over 2 years ago, however, it was not conducted until October 2021, due to COVID-19 related delays. “We have been waiting for this for a long time and I am thrilled that we now have this roadmap in our hands”, said Secretary Strange. DOC received the final report last month and have been busy getting familiar with its contents.

Strange, early on in her appointment, identified the need for a Women’s Prison Division, naming former Senator Jeannie Darneille to lead this initiative.

“I asked that the contractor look at everything to give us an overview of what our trajectory for the future should be,” says Strange. “I wanted to be sure that we continue building a strong Women’s Prison Division with an effective gender responsive system, and they have delivered exactly that.”

Currently, the Women’s Prison Division is working to identify top priorities and a path forward to accomplish them. The division is developing an advisory team comprised of external agencies like the Superior Court Judges Association, the Gender and Justice Commission, the LGBTQ+ Commission, the Sentencing Guidelines Commission, and more. Several additional advisory teams are comprised of staff, incarcerated women, formerly incarcerated individuals, external programming partners, and more. These individuals and organizations will assist the Division in putting together policy revisions and decision packages for review by the Legislature in order to best support gender responsive and trauma-informed projects. They will also assist with informing the content of essential training to those working within women’s prisons, to fully understand the unique challenges facing incarcerated women.

“We have come a long way,” Strange says. “I’m pleased that many of the core essential parts of the GIPA point out practices we have been doing or had already identified as opportunities for improvement, such as acquiring the Women’s Risk Needs Assessment to restructure classification systems for women. This affirms and validates the great work of the department, but also highlights that we have a long way to go. I can’t think of a better blueprint and team to implement it.

We know that this work can’t happen overnight, but we are committed to developing what we need to improve our practices.”