Washington State's Re-entry Initiative is a cornerstone of the Department of Corrections' effort to improve public safety. The initiative protects citizens by providing offenders with programs that reduce the likelihood they will commit new crimes after release from prison, jail, or community supervision. About 97 percent of offenders will complete their sentences and release to the community. Without successful efforts to resolve their individual deficits, many will return to lives of crime. The goal of the Re-entry Initiative is to prevent that from happening.
An Effective Re-entry Program
As a business, Correctional Industries is committed to maintain and expand Offender Work Training Programs which develop marketable job skills, instill and promote positive work ethics, and reduce the tax burden of corrections. In support of this mission, Correctional Industries has two objectives to enhance the work training programs we currently run statewide. The first is to ensure every qualified CI offender who wants assistance is "work ready" and employable upon release. The second objective is to link with community partners on job readiness, job placement, and Vocational Education to provide a pathway of continuous employment from prison into the community.
Stable employment is critical to a successful transition to the community and reintegration into society. The link between unemployment and crime is well established and it has been proven that offenders reentering the community are less likely to reoffend if they can overcome employment barriers. Research by Sampson and Laub (1993, 2003) emphasize the importance of social bonds in an individual's refrain from criminal activity. They explain the effect of employment on recidivism as a result of developing bonds to conventional norms that lead to attachment and commitment to conventional society, and lead individuals to desist from criminal activity.
Bridging the Gap
The program is led by a Workforce Development Manager who oversees and manages Workforce Development Specialists located at major prison facilities around Washington State. The Specialists manage the statewide Certificate of Proficiency program documenting skill acquisition; oversee the Makin' It Work Program which offers a Soft Skills cognitive behavioral training for offenders; insure that all CI positions meet current United States Department of Labor Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes; and provide "work readiness" assistance to CI offenders, including conducting Mock Interviews and developing resumes. They also coordinate with service providers in the community to provide select offenders employed by CI with wrap around employment services before and after their transition from prison. These working relationships develop a bridge to employment opportunities in communities where CI releases a substantial number of offenders.
Increasing the percentage of offenders who are employed post-release is a major initiative of the Department of Corrections and supports Governor Inslee's Results Washington strategic framework for "Healthy and Safe Communities" and "Building a more responsive, data-driven state government."
The Certificate of Proficiency is a vehicle to recognize offenders who have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in their work, based on criteria established for Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) and by Correctional Industries. Offenders trained through CI's TRAC Program or by working with various organizations can also earn specialized industry accredited certificates in areas such as laundry management, flagging, and forklift operation.