What’s Can Go Wrong?
The problem? Mr. Beard earned his Earned Release Date (ERD) of January 21, 2008 by obeying the rules, successfully participating in programming and his desire to change. Yet, he was denied his freedom – denied a his ERD – not due to his mistakes, but instead due to the preventable errors of others. If those responsible had simply performed their public responsibilities consistent with their Position Descriptions, training and policy mandates  Mr. Beard would have been released on time.
So, what can you do to ensure a successfull transition and release process? I believe it begins by taking time to understand the policy requirements set forth in DOC 350.200, paying particular attention to the mandatory time-frames, the procedures set forth in Attachments 2-6 and then taking the initiative.
* DOC 350.200 Directive (I)(A)(C) requires each assigned counselor meet with the prisoner 12 months prior to the his or her ERD to initiate release planning.
* DOC 350.200 Directive (I)(E) requires the assigned counselor to submit the prisoner’s ORP to the County Field Office for investigation at 6 months.
* DOC 350.200 Directive (I)(F) requires the assigned counselor enroll the prisoner in the Housing Voucher Program 30 days prior to ERD if the prisoner is without the ability to pay rent.
* DOC 350.200 Directive (II)(A) requires the assigned CCO investigate – approve or deny – the ORP within 30 days of being assigned.
What Can I Do?
Engage by looking over the fence at each stage.
12 months: If the prisoner has two release address options available they should consider presenting them both at this time. Or, if the prisoner does not have any viable release address options, he or she should ask the assigned counselor for a list of DOC pre-approved addresses, requesting the counselor assist him or her in selecting two which most closely fit the prisoner’s needs.
It is also recommended at this time that you initially obtain a copy of the prisoner’s OMNI Chrono screen entries, Facility Plan, or other equivalent record (See Part IX), which contains the prisoner’s reentry plan, to ensure it has been completed consistent with RCW 72.09.270(8). It is recommended you obtain the assigned counselor’s contact information – phone, extention and email – introduce yourself, let them know you want to be involved in the process. Don’t think for a minute that your silence will be of any benefit.
6 months: It is recommended at this time that you obtain a copy of the prisoner’s OMNI Chrono screen entries and ORP (See Part IX) submitted to the Field Office, making sure everything is on track. It is also recommended you obtain the assigned CCO’s contact information – phone, extention and email – introduce yourself, let him or her know you want to be involved in the process. Provide a series of dates/times to meet with the CCO for inspection of the potential release address and cooperate with their recommendations.
It is also recommended you contact the CCO by email with any follow-up inquiries every ten days or so.
If for some reason you have not been contacted by the CCO by day 20, you should consider contacting the Field Office Supervisor and ask “why.”
Over the years I’ve seen the transition and release process go as planned and I’ve seen it fail due to lack of training, negligence or a callous disregard for the interests at stake.
What most people unfamiliar with prison fail to understand is that when a prisoner is denied his or her ERD, their families and friends are also affected. In many ways they too were denied their ERD, after years of waiting, years of 20 minute calls, years of reading/writing letters, years of visits across a table, years of just wanting to be whole again.
What can help ensure a successful transition and release? Work together, engage in the process at each stage, cooperate with the imposed conditions of release and if you discern a problem, you should consider obtaining a record in real time, asking questions.
I can be reached for comment or questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Michael Holmberg