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WA DOC Mental Health Training

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $534,828)

Correctional systems in the United States have become increasingly responsible for the care of persons with mental health concerns (National Leadership Forum on Behavioral Health/Criminal Justice Services, 2009; Prins, 2014). Criminal Justice-involved persons experience a much higher rate of mental illness than the general population. In the Washington State Correctional system, there are approximately 4,800 individuals in prisons and 4,780 under community supervision with mental health disorders. As Washington State works to expand the use of mental health courts, the number of people with mental illness under community supervision is expected to increase exponentially.   
    The Washington State Department of Corrections is committed to meeting the needs of justice-involved persons in our supervision and care. This includes awareness and understanding of mental health disorders and how to appropriately de-escalate and de-fuse crises, how to connect people to care, and how to reduce stigma associated with mental health. All are essential skills corrections staff need to be effective in their profession and effectively assist and support those we serve, which includes 13,467 in confinement and 12,509 on community supervision. This will help achieve the goal we all share - safe return to and healthy functioning in the community for justice involved individuals.

            Our current training plan provides introductory information on mental health and skills needed to interact with and assist those who may be experiencing mental health crisis or become in crisis. Staff who interact with incarcerated individuals would benefit from a deeper understanding of mental and behavioral health conditions and how to support those individuals. This should include characterological disorders and substance use disorders, with an emphasis on effective on-site engagement and intervention strategies including de-escalation skills. With an evidence-based curriculum and consistent training regimen, our staff will be better equipped with the knowledge and skill set to recognize potential crisis situations allowing for earlier mitigation and de-escalation assuring safety and well-being of all individuals.

    WADOC will be the lead applicant on this project, working with the WADOC Mental Health Division (mental health agency, no MOU needed) to identify specialized mental health curriculum for purchase, as well as create, implement, and evaluate continuation mental health modules and training for staff. There will be a total of 50 WADOC staff trained to be trainers on these curriculums and initially 10,000 WADOC staff trained during the period of the grant.

    WADOC has not received past funding from JMHCP. WADOC is requesting $550,000 in federal funding.
    WADOC will address the following program-specific priority areas: Promote effective strategies by law enforcement to identify and reduce the risk of harm to individuals with MHDs or co-occurring MHSUDs who encounter law enforcement and improve public safety and to Propose interventions that have been shown by empirical evidence to reduce recidivism. When appropriate, use validated assessment tools to target people who have been incarcerated with a moderate or high risk of recidivism and a need for treatment services.

Date Created: September 26, 2023