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Achieve Organizational Excellence | Provide Full & Partial Confinement Options


The Department of Corrections is committed to operate a safe and humane corrections system. The department will accomplish the mission to improve public safety through deliberate actions taken to achieve objectives related to improving lives and keeping people safe.

Operating overcapacity threatens the department's ability to maintain a safe, humane, and effective corrections system. Inadequate capacity also diminishes the ability for the department to house incarcerated individuals appropriately, to offer rehabilitative programming, and to respond to emergent issues that could arise due to failing infrastructure, unforeseen conditions, or natural disasters.

For the last several years, there has been a relatively steady increase in the population housed in department facilities. Capacity of those facilities has struggled to keep pace as creating additional living units or facilities is a long term and expensive process. However, a decrease in admissions for property and drug offenders in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 has alleviated some overcapacity issues.

The department works closely with the Washington State Caseload Forecast Council to determine if the demand for beds is predicted to change in the future.

How We Measure

The Department of Corrections continues to strive to provide full and partial confinement options within 100% of capacity.

Provide Full & Partial Confinement Options

Percentage of bed capacity (April 2020)

On track

This statistic describes the number of individuals incarcerated in prison and work release facilities expressed as a percentage of the number of beds available.

Capacity Rates

Factors that Influence Prison Capacity

State Sentencing Laws

State sentencing laws have a direct impact on the department's capacity needs and services that can be provided. Statutes determine what offenses the courts send to prison and for how long they stay. The Department of Corrections is responsible for carrying out court sentences and to hold individuals accountable for their behavior while incarcerated.


Recidivism also places demands on prison beds. For 2016 releases, 12.1% of individuals returned to prison within one year. The department intends to decrease the first-year recidivism rate to 10% by 2023. The decrease equates to roughly 160 fewer people returning to prison and an increase in public safety.

Actions Being Taken to Deliver Results