Shea: DOC extension of chemical dependency treatment contract saves 173 local jobs

The Department of Corrections (DOC) announced today it will extend its existing contract for chemical dependency treatment services with American Behavioral Health Systems (ABHS) for one more year.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, welcomed the news, saying it will protect 173 jobs in the Spokane area, including 113 in the 4th Legislative District, and 75 jobs in Chehalis.

“This is enormously good news for our community. The Spokane Valley has been trying to cope with job loss and has the 11th highest unemployment rate out of the 49 legislative districts in the state, with nearly 5,000 people looking for work. We’ve been struggling with jobs going across the border to Idaho. So to be able to save nearly 250 jobs with this contract staying in place is a tremendous victory, particularly for Spokane Valley,” said Shea.

ABHS offers community-based chemical dependency treatment at locations in Spokane, Spokane Valley and Chehalis. Since March 2007, it has provided contracted services for offenders under the supervision of DOC through the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA) program. Without the contract, ABHS Executive Director Craig Phillips said the locations might have been forced to close or operate in a diminished capacity.

In April, nine legislators, including Shea, sent a joint letter in support of ABHS to DOC Secretary Eldon Vail, also stating concerns that the department had published a request for bid proposals unbeknownst to ABHS for the contract it currently holds.

“It caught the company by surprise and we were concerned because this could have cost jobs in our community. ABHS has been an asset to the local area and has provided treatment services at a cost savings to the taxpayers of our state,” added Shea.

In a statement released today, Vail wrote, “While I believe it was a fair bidding process, I listened to concerns from stakeholders that it was not. Therefore, I decided to continue with the existing contract for another year and will request bids again next year.”

Shea believes the joint legislative letter to Vail helped protect local jobs.

“This was a team effort. I was happy to be a part of it. I think it articulated our concerns to Secretary Vail and was one of many things that were instrumental in keeping these jobs in Spokane,” Shea concluded.

“I was impressed with the help I received from Representative Shea, Senator Jeff Baxter and the other legislators in navigating the complicated process of government. It made all the difference,” added Phillips. “It is literally life or death for these patients. The efforts of our legislators not only saved jobs, but will save lives for those who complete these important community-based treatment services.”

In addition to Shea and Baxter, the April 19 support letter was signed by Rep. Larry Crouse, Sen. Don Benton, Sen. Val Stevens, Sen. Michael Baumgartner, Sen. Mike Carrell, Sen. Bob Morton, and Sen. Pam Roach.

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CONTACT: John Sattgast – Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7257


Washington State House Republican Communications