DCYF's Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) serves Washington state's highest-risk youth. Youth may be committed to JR custody by any county juvenile court. The juvenile courts follow prescribed sentencing guidelines to determine which youth will be committed to JR. These youth typically have committed many lower-level offenses or have committed a serious crime.
Juvenile justice in Washington State is governed by Title 13 RCW, The Juvenile Justice Act of 1977, which establishes a system of accountability and rehabilitative treatment for juvenile offenders.
A majority of juvenile offenders are retained in their home counties and receive services administered by the juvenile court; e.g., detention and/or probation. Youth committed to JR are typically deep end youth that have committed serious crimes or have an accrued an extensive criminal history. When considering the purposes of the 1977 Act, it is important to keep in mind that it speaks to the entire juvenile justice continuum, with JR at the end of that continuum.
Washington is the only state that uses a "determinate sentencing" structure in committing juvenile offenders. Youth committed to JR custody have court determined minimum and maximum sentence terms; for example 15 to 36 weeks. Sentencing length is determined using a point system that takes offense seriousness and criminal history into account. Ordinarily, Standard Range sentences are applied based on the offender's point level.
However, juvenile courts have authority to sentence outside the Standard Range through a finding of Manifest Injustice. A judge or juvenile court commissioner can find that the Standard Range sentence is either too lenient for the seriousness of the offense and order a longer term of confinement (Manifest Injustice Up) or overly punitive and order a sentence less than the Standard Range (Manifest Injustice Down). Approximately 35% of youth in JR care are serving Manifest Injustice Up sentences; 5% Manifest Injustice Down. Youth sentenced under a finding of Manifest Injustice also have prescribed minimum and maximum sentence terms.
JR establishes criteria for release of a youth from residential care and has authority to do so at any point between the minimum and maximum release dates. JR does not have the authority to retain a youth in residential care beyond his or her maximum release date or authority to return a youth to long term residential care from parole, regardless of poor progress in the community. Post release, youth may be returned to residential care for up to 30 days for parole violation; this requires approval of an administrative hearings judge. Youth may be returned to residential care multiple times for parole violations but for no longer than 30 days per return.