Gildon bill expanding substance abuse treatment for ex-prisoners is signed by governor

 25th District senator takes interest in criminal rehabilitation – also launches study of prison rehabilitation programs

A bill from Sen. Chris Gildon requiring substance abuse evaluation and treatment for Washington prison inmates nearing release was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Senate Bill 5502 reflects Gildon’s interest in reducing recidivism, and is aimed at prisoners due for early release through the state’s Graduated Reentry Program. Under the new law, a drug evaluation is required for all prisoners who are considered for early release, and treatment is required for those determined to have a substance abuse disorder. Upon release, the Department of Corrections must monitor offenders for substance use until they can be placed in community treatment programs.

“Substance abuse is one of the biggest determining factors in whether offenders will return to a life of crime,” said Gildon, R-Puyallup. “Continued drug use poses a threat not just to the community but to those who are being released. When former inmates die of drug overdoses shortly after release, we know we have failed them. We need to do all we can to help them make the right choices.”

Committee hearings on the bill established that at least seven inmates released through the Graduated Reentry Program have died as a result of drug overdoses.

The state operating budget, due to be signed shortly by the governor, provides $2.4 million to launch the drug evaluations and treatment.

Gildon also obtained an appropriation of $282,000 in the budget to launch a state study of the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs offered through the Department of Corrections.