SEATTLE - When it comes to the public safety issue of recidivism, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg gives Washington state a failing grade. His concerns are focused on the 8,000 men and woman who will walk out of state prisons this year.
"We know that almost half of them are going to go back to prison within three years," said Satterberg.
Satterberg organized a Summit of experts that came up with a report called "Investing for No Return." Based on state recidivism rates, it forecasts that 30-50 percent of all inmates released this year will be back behind bars within three years.
Satterberg plans to take the report to lawmakers in Olympia.
"They are going to be given a capital budget plan that says in 10 years two more quarter billion dollar prisons need to be planned and built. I think we can do better than we are doing. This isn't about dumping millions of dollars in new programs. We know what needs to be done," said Satterberg.
He will propose a reentry tool kit that would assist in finding housing and jobs, benefits and legal guidance as well as mental health and substance abuse treatment.
John Page was one of the Reentry Summit participants. Page also spent 8 years in a Washington state prison. When he was released he had a little more than $40 in his pocket and a prison I.D. He said the most difficult part of the transition was finding work.
He said during the job search he was asked, "have you been convicted of a felony? And I check yes. Everything changed, everything stopped, interview stopped."
Page has been out of prison for more than six years. He works for a non-profit called the Defender Association, and he reaches out to men and women just released from prison to offer help.
Satterberg said next month he will go before Seattle city council to discuss his report (read the report below). He plans to soon present his proposal to lawmakers in Olympia.