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The History of  Washington Correctional Association

The Washington Correctional Association had its beginning with the establishment of legislation in the State of Washington for care of dependent and delinquent children, when the original Juvenile Court Code was adopted in 1913.  As early as 1916, a Second Annual Probation Officers' Conference was held in Seattle at the King County Juvenile Court under the auspices of the State Humane Bureau.  This Humane Bureau consisted of some six members composed of the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and two Superior Court Judges. 

Child Welfare and Juvenile Delinquency continued under Juvenile Court administration and supervision with financial responsibility resting with County Commissioners until the Federal Welfare program was set up at the beginning of 1933.  With the inauguration of the new Welfare Program, trained workers were recruited from private agencies and from out of state to administer it.  About this time, the Graduate School of Social Work was established at the University of Washington.  Probation Officers began to be stirred by the new professional approaches to childcare problems.  There was a trend to move children out of institutional and group care to foster home placement.  Welfare workers affiliated with a lay association already formed to 

share problems, to get acquainted with workers in private agencies and allied fields and to help train and inform lay workers.  Shared knowledge and experience strengthened the administration of the total welfare program in local areas. 

Chief Probation Officers from all parts of the state began attending and some joined the Washington Association of Social Welfare.  Out of "get-togethers" of some of these officers at conferences, a Probation Officers Association was formed.  At first, it was quite an informal organization without a written Constitution or By-Laws, but was close-knit and made up almost entirely of Chief Probation Officers. 

In 1939, a study was made of Juvenile Courts in Washington.  The study was highly critical of many of the Juvenile Courts as compared with national standards, and set off a lot of publicity about the extent of delinquency, inadequate personnel and poor detention facilities.  It put a lot of Chief Probation Officers on the defensive, and soon they began meeting regularly with duly elected officers.  Enlarged membership in the Association followed shortly thereafter with the inclusion of Adult Probation and Parole and institutional and correctional personnel of various field staffs. 

The first written Constitution of the Association was drawn up and adopted in November of 1947.  It was a simple, one-sheet affair, defining the name, purpose, membership, officers and meeting times.  The following year the document was formalized to include three officers and an executive board.  This Constitution provided for Association Membership without power to vote or hold office, "for any resident of Washington interested in the work of the Association and willing to participate in its program and further its objectives." 

For some time there had been consistent requests to widen full membership and a new Constitution was prepared in 1955 which provided for Sections of interest and geographical regions.  This gave a greatly augmented membership opportunity to reach meeting places more easily and less expensively.  An attempt was also made to change the name from Washington Probation and Parole Association to Washington Correctional Association, but this was not effected until 1961.  By that time, the National Probation and Parole Association had become the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. 

The Association was active in requesting funds through the N.C.C.D. to establish a citizens committee in the state.  That Washington Citizens Committee has since become the Washington Council on Crime and Delinquency.  An annual Juvenile Court reporting system was established in the 1950's through the efforts of the Association and the newly established Division of Children and Youth.  The Newsletter, (now the PROBE), was implemented to serve as a communication vehicle for the membership. 

During the 1960's, correctional agencies at all levels grew rapidly, and as a result, staff training as well as many other functions formerly provided by the Association, have been assumed by them.  The need for change within the Association resulted in the formation of a Revision Committee in 1969, which made several recommendations to the membership to broaden the scope of the Association and streamline many of its operations.  By the vote at the annual business meeting in Richland in October of 1969, changes in the Constitution provided a broadened conception of the Association purpose to focus on the community, behavioral change, and the entire correctional process.  The elimination of Sections (adult and juvenile), the strengthening of the requirements for major offices, and regional re-alignment, provided some additional means to an integrated, cohesive, statewide association with possibilities for a greater representation.

The field of corrections faced major changes in the State of Washington during the 70's and 80's.  State corrections agencies were first absorbed into the Department of Social and Health Services, an "umbrella agency," and then separated by the creation of the Department of Corrections, with state juvenile programs remaining under DSHS.  Both juvenile and adult corrections experienced substantial change in philosophy and procedure as a result of the Juvenile Justice Act of 1977 and the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981, which implemented determinant sentencing in both systems.  Throughout the development of these laws, the Association interpreted bills for its members, solicited recommendations, which were then presented to members of the Legislature, and made numerous recommendations for needed modifications. 

Due to the broad scope of these changes, national attention was drawn to the State of Washington.  The Association, therefore, after many years of formal affiliation with both the Western Correctional Association and the American Correctional Association, voted to strengthen its ties on a national level by applying to the dual membership program of ACA.  Washington was accepted as a chapter state in January, 1982. 

In an effort to become a more forceful and effective entity, the Association began developing specific goals and methods of implementing these goals in a variety of areas.  To maintain a special focus, a mission statement was adopted and incorporated into the Preamble to the Constitution and By-Laws of the Association in 1985.  That statement is as follows: 

"To provide information, education and leadership for members and the community in order to promote an effective criminal justice system."

Last Updated: 02/03/2010 10:39 PM
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