We work hard to ensure that our prisons are safe for staff, visitors and incarcerated individuals. Tracking violent infractions is one way to measure the management, security and control within a prison. Our safety program improves workplace safety and preparedness, creates an environment conducive to offender change, and holds individuals accountable for their behavior. This leading indicator measures how well we are doing in respect to safety in our prisons.
Our prisons remain safe and secure and are operationally sound. We have done much over the years to make our prisons safer. Prisons will always be dangerous places to work, but prisons in Washington state are much safer now than history has shown. In the past few years, we have had a significant reduction in violent infractions from a rate of 1.58 per 100 offenders in March 2008 to 0.90 per 100 offenders in October 2017. To maintain our goal, there must roughly 150 violent infractions or less per month.
Washington’s prison system is recognized as an innovator in the nation. In response to past violent behavior in our prisons, we have adopted strategies based on sound correctional practices, research and our data. Some recent implementation strategies include:
- Operation Place Safety, based on the evidence-based community Ceasefire model. The focus of this program is to reduce certain violent acts that pose the greatest risk to staff and offenders safety;
- Aggression reduction programs for offenders housed in our maximum security units to reduce violence, to give them skills to safely transition to general population, and prepare them to better engage in other evidence-based program opportunities;
- Place Safety Musters and security forums to listen to our staff about their safety concerns. To date, we have received 2,005 safety recommendations and have implemented over 1,715 of them; and,
- Maintaining safe staffing levels (e.g., staff to offender ratio, custody level, and operational needs).