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Program Profile: Offender Reentry Community Safety Program

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on November 16, 2015

Program Summary

Formerly called the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program, this is a reentry-planning and service program aimed at reducing recidivism for dangerously mentally ill offenders in Washington State. The program is rated Promising. Program participants had significantly lower violent felony and overall felony recidivism rates compared with the matched control group 4 years following release from prison.

Program Description

Program Goals
The Offender Reentry Community Safety (ORCS) Program, formerly called the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program, provides up to 5 years of reentry planning and services to mentally ill offenders released from prisons in Washington State. In 1999, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation to better identify and improve services to offenders with mental illness in an effort to decrease the risk they pose to communities and themselves once they are released from prison. Through interagency coordination, the ORCS Program aims to ease the stresses of community reintegration and reduce post-release offending by providing individualized services to offenders.

Target Population
The ORCS Program is reserved for individuals who have been officially classified as a dangerously mentally ill by the Department of Corrections (DOC). A dangerously mentally ill offender (DMIO) is someone “with a mental disorder who has been determined to be dangerous to self or others” (Mayfield 2009). Individuals showing signs of dangerous mental illness are referred to the statewide ORCS Committee, which makes an official designation of mental health status.

Program Activities
Once an individual is designated as a DMIO (usually 6 months prior to release), he or she is immediately referred to mental health services within the prison. For 3 to 4 months prior to release, the offender receives mental health treatment, transition planning, and other specialized services to prepare for leaving prison. Numerous services are available to participants depending on their needs. Prior to leaving prison, an assessment is conducted to determine what specific assistance the individual will benefit from prior to release and within a community setting.

After release, ORCS program participants continue to receive social services for up to five years. Services available in the community include mental health treatment, housing assistance, substance abuse treatment, medical assistance, and vocational training. DMIO designees are not required to use these services unless it is a condition of their probation.

Key Personnel
The ORCS Program is an interagency collaboration. The DOC makes the official DMIO designation while offenders are in prison. Offenders are assigned a treatment provider by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to begin receiving services. The DSHS also contracts with Regional Support Networks and other providers who offer additional support services for program participants.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Overall Felony Recidivism
Mayfield (2009) found that participants of the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender program (now called the Offender Reentry Community Safety Program) were 42 percent less likely to commit a new felony within 4 years of being released from prison, compared with the control group. Approximately 28 percent of program participants committed a new felony offense within 4 years of release from prison, compared with 48 percent of similar mentally ill offenders who did not participate in the program (a significant difference).

Violent Felony Recidivism
Program participants were also 36 percent less likely to commit a new violent felony offense 4 years after release from prison, compared with nonparticipants. About 25 percent of the comparison group committed a violent felony within 4 years of release, while only 16 percent of program participants were convicted for violent felonies (a significant difference).
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
In a 4-year evaluation study, Mayfield (2009) used a quasi-experimental matched control group design to examine differences in felony recidivism between participants in the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender program (now called the Offender Reentry Community Safety Program) and a similar group of nonparticipants with mental illness in Washington State. The treatment group included 172 offenders deemed DMIOs by a DMIO committee within the Washington State Department of Corrections and who were released from prison before December 31, 2003. The control group consisted of 172 mentally ill prisoners released from prison between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2000. These individuals were matched to treatment group participants based on eight variables, including number of prior felony convictions, number of days in residential mental health treatment facilities, age, race, gender, annual infraction rate within prison, and the number of past drug offenses. The treatment group was 30 percent nonwhite and 13 percent female, with an average age of 37 at release. The control group was 26 percent nonwhite and 11 percent female, with an average age of 35 at release. At baseline, the control group was equivalent to the treatment group on all of these measures with the exception of age; the treatment group was significantly older than the comparison group.

Recidivism was measured as a reconviction in a Washington State Court for any felony offense within 4 years of release from prison. The analysis focused specifically on all felony recidivism and violent felony recidivism. To discern differences between the treatment and control groups, pairwise comparisons of recidivism were performed and logistic regression was also used to determine differences in post-release offending.
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Cost

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Cost–benefit analyses performed by Mayfield (2009) estimated that for every $1 spent on the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender program, now called the Offender Reentry Community Safety (ORCS) Program, taxpayers saved $1.64 by preventing recidivism and reducing criminal justice costs. The program costs up to $10,000 per offender per year, for a maximum of 5 years. In the first 3 months after the offender is released from prison, services cost a flat rate of $6,000. For each subsequent month, service providers are paid $700 if the participant is on Medicaid and $900 if the participant is not. The author estimated that over 4 years, the program costs $33,866 for each participant. In 2015, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy updated the cost–benefit analyses of the ORCS Program. The estimated program costs decreased only slightly, to $33,813. It was estimated that for every $1 spent on the ORCS Program, taxpayers saved $1.82 by preventing recidivism and reducing criminal justice costs (Washington State Institute for Public Policy 2015).
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Mayfield, Jim. 2009. The Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program: Four-Year Felony Recidivism and Cost Effectiveness. Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1036
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Mayfield, Jim.2007. The Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program: Cost Effectiveness 2.5 Years After Participants’ Prison Release. Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Mayfield, Jim, and David Lovell. 2008. The Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program: Three-Year Felony Recidivism and Cost Effectiveness. Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Lovell, David, Polly Phipps, and Gregg Gagliardi. 2005. Washington’s Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Law: Was Community Safety Increased? Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Lovell, David, and Jim Mayfield. 2007. Washington’s Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Law: Program Costs and Developments. Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Phipps, Polly, and Gregg Gagliardi. 2002. Washington’s Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Law: Preliminary Findings. Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Phipps, Polly, and Gregg Gagliardi. 2003. Washington’s Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Law: Program Selection and Interim Report. Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Washington State Institute for Public Policy. 2015. Offender Re-entry Community Safety Program (Dangerously Mentally Ill Offenders). Olympia, Wash.: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/BenefitCost/Program/8
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Adult Reentry Programs
This practice involves correctional programs that focus on the transition of individuals from prison into the community. Reentry programs involve treatment or services that have been initiated while the individual is in custody and a follow-up component after the individual is released. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 18+

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: White, Other

Setting (Delivery): Correctional, Other Community Setting

Program Type: Aftercare/Reentry, Probation/Parole Services, Wraparound/Case Management, Violence Prevention

Targeted Population: Mentally Ill Offenders, Prisoners

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center