In the recently released House budget funding in the amount of $2.4 million is provided to implement 2SHB 1767 which establishes a grant program to engage individuals with substance use disorders or other behavioral health needs in therapeutic programs and services when they are involved in the criminal justice system.

The Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) must develop and implement a grant program to properly identify criminal justice system-involved individuals with substance use disorders and other behavioral health needs and engage them with therapeutic interventions and other services before they are booked in jail or while they are in custody. To achieve expected, measurable outcomes the program must include: (1) reductions in arrests, time spent in custody, and/or recidivism; (2) increased access to and utilization of nonemergency community behavioral health services; (3) reductions in unnecessary utilization of emergency services; (4) increased resilience, stability, and well-being; and (5) reductions in costs for the criminal justice system.

In order to qualify for the grant funding, the program must have a pre-booking diversion focus and engage persons at risk of criminal justice system involvement in community-based care and support services or provide similar services to persons being released from jail.

Up to 25% of total funds may be used in the jail for those with behavioral health needs allocated to services for: (1) use of case management and peer support services; (2) specialized training for jail staff; (3) comprehensive jail reentry programming; or (4) other innovate interventions.

Client engagement and outcomes must be tracked along with descriptions as to how they will impact expected outcomes of the program. Grants will be renewed based on the condition that they demonstrate alignment with grant requirements.

Grants must be fairly, geographically distributed and priority will be given to those jurisdictions that provide matching funds.

While this bill was not included in the recently released Senate budget, that does not mean that the bill is dead.  It has been referred to the Ways & Means Committee and is likely considered necessary to implement the budget which means that it is not subject to the policy cutoff of April 3rd.

Juliana Roe comes to WSAC with almost a decade of experience working as non-partisan staff in the Washington State Senate. She has a strong legal background and knowledge of our court system as she served as a law clerk for Chief Justice Alexander for the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office. Juliana received her Juris Doctorate from Seattle University School of Law, and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington. She represents WSAC on issues relating to public safety, law and justice, and human services.