Governor Jay Inslee signed the “Sobriety for Sale” bill into law Tuesday.
The new law, Senate Bill 5705, gives new marching orders to the Washington Department of Social and Health Services Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR).
DBHR is responsible for inspecting 570 state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment facilities across Washington State.
The KING 5 investigator’s “Sobriety for Sale” reports revealed that DBHR was failing to pursue alleged violations and reaching questionable settlements with troubled treatment centers.
DBHR was ignoring the findings of its own inspectors and shutting down investigations.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve the process, and this is one way to improve the process,” said Inslee in response to a question about whether he was frustrated that the law was even necessary in the first place.
Witnesses and thousands of pages of documents obtained by KING 5 claim that DBHR upper management made these decisions to avoid threats of lawsuits made by lawyers for the accused clinics.
Documents show that in some cases licensed counselors at these clinics were accepting cash bribes from clients who were ordered into treatment as part of a criminal sentence. In exchange, the counselors would report to the court that the offender was in compliance with treatment, even though DBHR inspectors believed the offender was receiving little or no treatment.
SB 5705 bars DBHR from reducing violations or reach settlements for the purpose of avoiding lawsuits.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Enumclaw, who said she was particularly concerned that repeat DUI offenders may not be receiving the treatment required to keep the public safe.
Tonight on KING 5 News at 11 p.m., two veteran DBHR employees reveal the full extent of the agency’s failure to act in the best interest of the public and describe how the agency "lost its integrity.”