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Wash. DOC aims to develop “robust gender-responsive program” in Women’s Prison Division

The study, called the Gender Informed Practices Assessment, takes a compressive systemic look at women’s prison practices

Columbia Basin Herald (Moses Lake, Wash.)

TUMWATER, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Corrections has been handed an evaluation of the needs of the newly-created Women’s Prison Division, according to a press release from the DOC.

The study, called the Gender Informed Practices Assessment, is a comprehensive assessment that identifies areas of opportunity to develop a more robust gender-responsive program and takes a compressive systemic look at women’s prison practices, from admission to release, the DOC wrote.

This assessment was originally set to begin more than two years ago, but COVID-19-related delays pushed it back to October 2021.

Currently, the Women’s Prison Division is working to identify top priorities and a path forward to accomplish them, the release said. The division is developing an advisory team of external agencies including the Superior Court Judges Association, the Gender and Justice Commission, the LGBTQ+ Commission, the Sentencing Guidelines Commission. Several additional advisory teams include DOC staff, incarcerated women, formerly incarcerated individuals, and external programming partners.

“We have come a long way,” said Secretary of Corrections Cheryl Strange in the press release. “I’m pleased that many of the core essential parts of the GIPA point out practices we have been doing or had already identified as opportunities for improvement, such as acquiring the Women’s Risk Needs Assessment to restructure classification systems for women. This affirms and validates the great work of the department, but also highlights that we have a long way to go. I can’t think of a better blueprint and team to implement it.”

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