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Prison Life – Returning to the community

Prison life

At approximately six months to Earned Release Date (ERD), an inmate creates an Offender Release Plan (ORP) with the assistance of their classification counselor. The plan includes the proposed residence and lists all people who already reside in that home. It also outlines available services in the area so that the releasing person can complete any treatment required by their sentencing documents.

The plan will be investigated by a Community Corrections Officer from the local field office. Not all plans are automatically approved. Several factors are considered to ensure that the proposed plan does not place the inmate at risk to re–offend, there are no victim concerns and the inmate has access to services and resources.

Certificate of Discharge

Community Corrections Officers are expected to pursue a Certificate of Discharge for Washington state convicted felony offenders who have met all of their sentence conditions, including the payment of cost of supervision fees, while under the supervision of the Department.

Washington State convicted offenders who desire a Certificate of Discharge but who are no longer under the authority of the Department of Corrections, are to work with the sentencing court, prosecutor and county clerk to obtain the Certificate of Discharge.

Effective July 26, 2009, a Washington state convicted felony offender who has completed all of his⁄her sentence conditions is eligible for a Certificate of Discharge even if the offender has an existing no–contact order that prohibits the offender from having contact with a specific individual or business or coming within a set distance of any specified location.

If the eligible offender desires a Certificate of Discharge but has a no–contact order as part of their judgement and sentence, they must petition the sentencing Court to issue both a certificate of discharge and a separate no–contact order. A filing fee will be assessed the offender for the issuance of the separate no–contact order. The issuance of a separate no–contact order is not considered a modification of the offender’s sentence.

If the court determines that the offender has met all sentence conditions, the court shall reissue the no–contact order separately under a new civil cause number for the remaining term and under the same conditions as contained in the judgement and sentence. It is the county clerk’s responsibility to send a copy of the new no–contact order to the people protected by the order, provided there is an address available in the court file. If there is not an address available, the responsibility rests with the Prosecutor. It is also the Clerk’s responsibility to forward the order to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

The instructions and forms to be used by the offender to petition the court for a Certificate of Discharge can be found at the Office of the Administrator of the Courts website.

County of Conviction

Washington state legislation requires inmates being released from DOC facilities to return to their county of first conviction; this includes felony–level juvenile and adult convictions. If the original county of conviction provides limited support, the inmate may request a waiver for an exception to this rule. The exception is requested by their Classification Counselor and approved or rejected by the facility Superintendent. It must also be approved by the Field Administrator where the person intends to live.

Housing Voucher Program

The DOC Earned Release Date Housing Voucher Program was created to allow inmates who, lacking only an approved address, would be held past their Earned Release Date (ERD). Releasing inmates at or close to their ERD saves the Department and tax payers money.

Inmates become eligible for this program after they have reached their ERD. Exceptions to this rule may apply to inmates who are disabled or ill; they may be allowed access to funds 30 days prior to their ERD. Inmates who lack sufficient funds and resources to secure a release address usually qualify. Funding will be for up to the first three months following release and is limited to $500 per month. Each inmate is encouraged to contact their Classification Counselor for more information. Housing funded by the voucher program still requires investigation and approval from a local Community Corrections Officer.

Voting Rights Restoration

Washington state convicted felony offenders lose their right to vote upon conviction.

Effective July 26, 2009, Washington state law changes regarding a Washington state convicted felons’ right to vote. The restoration of voting rights is related to whether the person is either serving a sentence of confinement in the custody of the Department of Corrections or is subject to community custody under the authority of the Department.

Whether you are eligible to register to vote is a determination best left to the Secretary of State’s Office. To find out more about your eligibility to register to vote, please contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 1-800-448-4881 or view additional information on their website.

If an offender has been determined to be eligible to vote, their right to vote will be provisionally restored. The Court can revoke that right at any time if the Court determines the offender has willfully failed to make at least three of their scheduled legal financial obligation payments in a twelve month period. Either the County Clerk or the restitution recipient can request the Prosecutor to seek revocation of the offender’s provisional voting rights.

If the Court revokes an offender’s provisional voting rights, the revocation remains in effect until the offender brings forth a motion to the Court to have their voting rights restored. At that time, the offender will have to demonstrate that he or she has made a good faith effort to pay as defined in RCW 10.82.090.

Felony offenders who have been convicted in a federal court or any state court other than a Washington state court, have their right to vote restored as long as they are no longer incarcerated.

Family Services Role

The Family Services Unit is here to assist families with questions they may have regarding this important process. For further information, contact the specialist closest to your location.