The Washington State legislative is currently in session, and this is a remarkable year for criminal justice reform. We are emboldened and activated by the fact that criminal justice reform is increasingly at the forefront of both federal and local lawmakers’ priorities, thanks to tireless activism by individuals, community organizations, and the people most impacted by the justice system.
YBB believes that the following bills are some that will have the most impact on our students and their communities. We have put together a short overview for you so you can read more about these bills. We implore you to take action and contact your representatives! Your voice matters!
SB 5819: Establishing a post-conviction review board and review process for early release of qualifying incarcerated individuals
Did you know that the vast majority of people incarcerated in Washington State have no options for parole unless their sentence is commuted by the Governor?
This bill intends to create an independent program of review to examine incarcerated individuals’ rehabilitation process and their potential to reenter the community. It would replace our current, limited-functioning “Indeterminate Sentence Review Board” and replace it with a “Post-conviction Review Board,” move it from the Department of Corrections to the office of the Governor, expand the size and capacity of the board to include a behavioral therapist and “individuals demonstrating competency in principles of racial equity and restorative justice”, and authorize review of post-conviction cases after 15 years of incarceration for early release.
This bill would impact many of our students, and especially our incarcerated instructors. We love that this bill was developed in consultation with people living behind bars in the Black Prisoners Caucus and the Concerned Lifers Organization.
We also recommend this short film produced by Disability Rights WA, which covers the need for sentencing review among the aging prison population in Washington State.
YBB Staff members Jess and Maggie with former YBB student, Gerard Boseman, who testified in support of SB 5819 last week.
HB 1646 and SB 5737: Concerning confinement in juvenile rehabilitation facilities
This bill would increase the eligible age for youth to stay in state juvenile facilities from 21 years of age to 25 years of age. We offer programs at Echo Glen Children’s Center, the largest of these facilities and see first-hand the greater degree of therapy, programs, and youth-centric care the residents receive compared with in adult facilities.
SB 5291: Creating alternatives to total confinement for certain qualifying persons with minor children
Did you know that more than half of people in prison are parents of minor children? This bill would expand eligibility for participation in a family sentencing alternative program, allowing more parents of minor children to have greater access to their children.
SB 5876: Creating a women’s division and system of gender-responsive, risk-need-responsivity, and trauma-informed practices within the department of corrections.
Did you both nationally and in WA state women are the fastest growing group of incarcerated persons? Yet, the prison system is not designed to address the complexities of the cases that bring people into womens prisons. It is reported that here in WA, more than 90 percent of people incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center have been victims of abuse.
Did you know you can now can track bills through the legislative process online? Sign up to receive updates by email or text here (note: registration is required).
Contact your legislators and tell them what bills you support this session! Find your representatives here.
**Blog post written on 02/20/2019. For more updated information, please visit leg.wa.gov and follow us on Facebook, where we will be posting updates and calls to action.