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Current Systemic Issue Work

2021 Strategic Priorities

The following are OCO's strategic priorities for 2021:

  1. Emergency Restraints
  2. Disciplinary Program
  3. Use of Force
  4. Race Equity
  5. Transgender Incarcerated Individuals
  6. Educational access/options

OCO is also in the process of publishing a systemic report on mental health services, which was a 2020 priority.

Current Systemic Work

The following systemic issues are currently being actively worked on by OCO staff. The systemic issues generally originate from and include a number of individual cases, which are separately responded to. Most will result in some form of a report, but not all. The following table demonstrates where OCO is working:

Topic Issue Summary/Allegations Actions Status
Mail Family members and incarcerated report many issues related to unfair mail rejections, unclear mail policies, lost mail, and other issues. Reviewed all mail-related complaints to OCO and drafted initial report; met with DOC to discuss. OCO has been holding regular meetings with family members via the public call on Thursdays, and visited three facility mailrooms in October.

Notes from call with Tracy/Lisa

Notes from public phone call

Initial draft report (work is continuing)

CRCC mail document and page 2

MCC Mailroom

AHCC Mailroom

Dos and Donts Resource

Emergency Restraint Chair/Bed OCO has received several complaints related to DOC's use of emergency restraints (particularly the emergency restraint chair and bed) in response to mental health crises/self-harm incidents OCO has initiated a systemic review and working with DOC to improve its use of emergency restraints, including improved documentation and review, reduced total incidents and time in emergency restraints, and better implementation of crisis negotiation de-escalation strategies.

WSP Emergency Restraint Chair

WSP Restraint Bed

Medical services Medical complaints are the number one issue reported to OCO Following up with records requests and reviews for every individual case reported to OCO; held ongoing meetings with DOC and the Governor's office; analyzed OCO complaints for common issues of concern Currently conducting systemic review of cases involving delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Meetings with Health Services were paused during COVID, but hopefully will resume soon.
Mental health services Selected as a systemic issue for OCO to work on in 2020 OCO staff have compiled all of the complaints to it related to mental health services, pulled into a draft report, and have held two meetings with the DOC Director of Mental Health Services (as of 11/5/20) In progress; plan to publish a report by June 30, 2021.
JPAY/GTL Poor quality of service and product; high rates; high service fees Conducted survey of family members of incarcerated people that was shared with DOC and a legislator

Letter from CEO of Securus

Letter from Sinclair to Securus

Currently serving on committee to renegotiate the telecommunications contract; advocated for inclusion of a family member on same committee; evaluating current costs and whether they could be reduced as well as impact on DOC

Offender Betterment Fund (OBF) OBF funds allegedly not used for purpose stated in policy; cannot reduce telecommunications costs due to OBF funding necessary salaries Met with DOC staff; opened systemic review; collecting information Work has been completed; report to be drafted and published.
Work Release Allegation of retaliation; overall systemic review of reasons why people are sent back to prison from WR and effectiveness of state resources Currently co-chairing workgroup with DOC, involving cross-section of both internal and external stakeholders. Finalizing work; report to be drafted and published.

Prior Systemic Issue Work

Property Selected as systemic issue for OCO to work on in 2020 OCO received feedback from tier reps across DOC and family members of the incarcerated; surveyed DOC staff; compiled findings and recommendations. Final Report
Urinalyses OCO received a number of concerns that the urinalysis cups that DOC was using produced false positives, resulting in serious consequences to the incarcerated persons, for which they had no meaningful appeal. OCO conducted multi-state research to determine that many states permit for an incarcerated person to send out a UA for a confirmation test by an outside lab. DOC also agreed to not test for THC for 45 days from reception due to the fact that THC can remain in a person's body for an extended period of time, depending on factors such as usage, body weight, etc. Final Report
Americans with Disability Act (ADA) concerns OCO received concerns that people with disabilities have disparate treatment in DOC and lack equal access to services and programs Sent notification regarding this project to every DOC incarcerated person via kiosk message; reviewing complaints for similarities; held multiple meetings with external stakeholder (DRW); conducted surveys of DOC ADA Coordinators; meeting with DOC ADA Compliance Manager Report in final stages to be published
Behavior Observation Entries (BOEs) Lack of notification and meaningful appeal; BOEs are then used in classification and ISRB proceedings Gathered complaints to OCO for common threads; met with DOC administrative staff; conducted survey of DOC staff who receive BOE appeals; finalized recommendations Final Report
Grievance Procedure Poor quality of investigations; failure to preserve video; excessive use of "rewrites" for technicalities that result in spinning incarcerated people; reports of bias and retaliation Prompted workgroup with cross-section of DOC staff related to grievance procedure and external stakeholders including DRW, Statewide Family Council Co-Chair, and a formerly incarcerated person to develop recommendations for improvement Workgroup meeting monthly and developing recommendations with final report due by 12/31/19.
WSP Food WSP incarcerated population held food strike; reports of poor quality, insufficient protein, poor preparation, food was cold, etc. Conducted survey of every incarcerated person at WSP; published report with survey findings; met with WSP tier reps regarding the findings; met with WSP and CI staff regarding the findings Published survey report; CI made improvements to least favored food items.
Female Incarcerated Population Mistreatment; transfers to Yakima; PREA Conducted survey of every female incarcerated person in DOC; OCO made repeated trips to Yakima; met with DOC leadership regarding concerns Published survey report on OCO website; Yakima contract has been ended by DOC.
Mattresses Selected as a systemic issue for OCO to work on in 2020 Held multiple meetings with DOC. Final Report

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