According to the Seattle Times, Washington state prison chief Harold Clarke is under fire. Republicans have been very critical of Clarke, as well as the governor, Christine Gregoire. GOP spokesman Josh Kahn told the Times: “Overall, [Gov.] Gregoire is badly mishandling the department.” The Washington Federation of State Employees may conduct a vote of no-confidence against Clarke in August.
In spite of the political backlash, the Washington state legislature approved a plan from Clarke, Gregoire, and a legislative task force to focus on some issues that lead to recidivism: illiteracy, addiction, mental illness, and lack of job skills. In addition, the prison system has been given $30 million to pay for more prison services, treatment follow-up and supervision once an inmate is released into the community. Clarke also plans to build two new treatment centers exclusively for parole violators. The centers would hold between 200 and 500 inmates.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2005, 38 percent of all parolees nationwide returned to prison. Typical parole violations include failing to get drug and alcohol treatment and failing to check in regularly with a community corrections officer. These new treatment centers would offer drug treatment, education, and proper mental health care. Efforts like Clarke's would be aimed at reducing the cycle of repeat crime.
Clarke will send the appropriations request to the governor and Legislature. In the meantime, the state has made arrangements to rent hundreds of county jail cells to hold the overflow of parole violators.
Prison chief plans among criticism [Seattle Times]
Probation and Parole statistics [U.S. Department of Justice]