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People in the Criminal Justice System

Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) houses over 5,500 individuals challenged with substance use disorder. Studies show incarcerated individuals releasing from prison are 40 times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than the general population.

What are we doing?

The Department of Corrections, in collaboration with the Health Care Authority and other partners, has programs and services to:

  • Continue treatment medications when people have been prescribed medications in the community and are held in a prison facility due to a parole violation.
  • Connect incarcerated individuals who are identified as having, or being at risk for, opioid use disorder, to resources when re-entering the community upon release.  Programs provide outreach and education about medication-assisted treatment and connect individuals to community providers in their county of release.
  • Distribute naloxone (the opioid overdose antidote)
    • Provide naloxone kits and overdose education to incarcerated individuals and our violator population identified as high risk for opioid overdose upon release.
    • Ensure naloxone kits are available to prisons and community corrections staff to minimize unintentional overdose due to inadvertent exposure to illicit opioid substances and to assist the entire community in reducing the number of opioid overdose deaths.

DOC is also developing systems to be able to identify and treat people while incarcerated, by:

  • Developing plans to coordinate care for people under DOC jurisdiction who are at risk for opioid use disorder.
  • Establishing medication-assisted treatment induction protocol for incarcerated individuals that have been diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

How are we doing?

  • DOC has educated 3,817 individuals about medication-assisted treatment.  Fifty percent of those, 1,912 individuals, were referred and connected to a community provider for treatment medications and/or other treatment services in their county of release.*
  • Naloxone kits have been distributed to 3,600 individuals under DOC jurisdiction.*
  • Four lives have been saved by staff using naloxone in emergency response situations.*
  • Over 90 percent of DOC’s medical practitioners have completed specialized training and received their buprenorphine waiver issued by the Drug Enforcement Agency.*

*   As of 12/31/2018