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DOC 101

February 3, 2021

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

(Tim Kelly, DOC Communications)

Prison systems have been in existence for centuries, evolving from isolated colonies or dungeons to buildings with bars, and from inhumane chain gangs, to the current concept of mentoring and supporting those in our criminal justice system.

Studies have revealed that as a nation, correctional systems are missing the mark. While only five percent of the world’s population live in the United States; 20 percent of the world’s incarcerated population is in our jails and prisons. Sentence structure is often racially inequitable; community supervision is required far beyond its efficacy; and people are still releasing homeless.

Currently, Washington State has 15,700 people in our prisons, with over 20,000 under community supervision, ranking 37th in the nation for number of incarcerated citizens, with approximately eight percent releasing homeless. (Reference: Agency Fact Card (pdf))

Something must change. Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) is ready for those courageous conversations, seeking partners that strengthen our efforts, and utilizing data to guide progressive reform; with a new vision, a new mission, a new heart.

DOC has made a commitment to change the culture of corrections: the way we think about incarceration; our values as compassionate human beings; and the way we live this better version of ourselves.

In 2020, DOC revised its mission statement to drive change in all aspects of our operations: To improve public safety by positively changing lives. In fact, annual training and new employee recruitment has been re-designed emphasizing this mind-set because only by living that mission, can we realize our vision.

These overarching tenets require each DOC employee to embrace the agency’s commitment: To operate a safe and humane corrections system and partner with others to transform lives for a better Washington.