Structured Negotiation Helps Washington Advocates Improve Jail Conditions

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This is a post about a disability rights program in Washington State. The program is called Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID). They improved jail conditions for people with mental illness and other cognitive disabilities. The program is part of Disability Rights Washington. The group used Structured Negotiation to work with their local jail. Structured Negotiation is a strategy to solve problems without the conflict and cost involved when fighting a lawsuit. AVID won an award for their important civil rights work in the local jail.

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Congratulations to the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) project at Disability Right’s Washington. The group was recently honored for its work in improving conditions for inmates with mental illness and other cognitive disabilities in Yakima County Jail.

AVID used Structured Negotiation to engage the County Jail and negotiate a settlement agreement. According to AVID’s summary of the case, “the parties worked under a structured negotiation agreement to resolve the legal claims in a less adversarial and costly manner.”

In the press release announcing the plan to reform jail mental health services as a result of the settlement, Disability Rights Washington lawyer Kimberly Mosloff praised the value of collaboration:

When clear and compelling evidence shows services are not up to the level they need to be, wasting time and money fighting in court hurts inmates and tax payers. I commend Yakima County officials, and especially the jail director Ed Campbell, for the leadership they demonstrated on this issue. Disability Rights Washington appreciates the collaborative and productive relationship that we have developed with Yakima County. Press release about Yakima County jail mental health reform

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AVID’s Structured Negotiation Work Honored

Recently, AVID’s Structured Negotiation work with Yakima County Jail was recognized by the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice, Inc. with one of its annual Chapman Awards:

Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID), Seattle, WA – is recognized for its innovated approach in reforming how county and state jails deal with their disabled inmates. Founded in 2014, AVID investigates allegations of abuse, neglect and rights violations, and when substantiated, advocates for change with corrections administrators. Using “structured negotiations” they have been able to stop jails from denying psychiatric medication and therapy, segregating inmates with disabilities and punishing people for self harm, all without litigation.Chapman Award

The award came with a well-deserved $10,000.00 cash prize.

Learn more about Structured Negotiation in Lainey’s book, Structured Negotiation, A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits. You can read about how the Law Office of Lainey Feingold has used Structured Negotiation for 20+ years on the Settlements Page of this website. Check out the Talks and Trainings page of this website if you think your organization could benefit from learning more about Structured Negotiation though a workshop or other presentation.