This Thursday, February 11, at 1:30 pm, the House Committee on Public Safety will vote on HB 1282. If this bill becomes law, all people convicted of a felony will have an opportunity to earn up to 33% off of their sentence. Currently, people convicted of a sex offense can earn a maximum of 10% off their sentence.
Information about the bill and a video recording of the Feb. 2 committee hearing can be found at the HB 1282 website. Many people testified at the hearing and all but the prosecuting attorneys and the police chiefs were in support of the bill. Here are some of the many reasons people gave for their support:
- The size of Washington’s prison population has nearly quadrupled over the last four decades. According to a 2020 report from the ACLU, this increase in prison population is primarily due to long sentences. Over 40% of all people in Washington’s prisons are serving sentences of ten or more years.
- Long sentences do not enhance public safety. Research shows that longer sentences actually decrease public safety since people incarcerated for longer periods have a more difficult time reintegrating into society than people incarcerated for shorter periods.
- Crime victims favor shorter sentences. A recent survey found that 61 percent of those who have experienced interpersonal violence favor shorter prison terms and enhanced spending on rehabilitation and prevention; only 25 percent preferred sentences that keep people in prison as long as possible.
- People of color are convicted of violent and sex offenses disproportionately compared to white people. These types of convictions get the longest sentences. Many believe it’s time to correct our past mistakes.
- The DOC testified in support of this bill. They believe that if this bill becomes law, the increased incentives to earn time off will make the prisons safer.
- Our state is facing a budget crisis. If this bill becomes law, the state will be able to save on average $43,000 per year per individual who earns early release.
I encourage you to access the bill’s website and leave a comment by 1:30 pm Wednesday. The committee will vote on Thursday and all comments must be posted at least 24 hours before the vote. In addition, if any of the following committee members are representatives of your district, I encourage you to email them directly with your opinion of this bill.
Roger Goodman(45), Jesse Johnson (30), Gina Mosbrucker (14), Lauren Davis (32), Brad Klippert (8), John Lovick (44), Dan Griffey (35), Bill Ramos (5), Jenny Graham (6), Tina Orwall (33), Jesse Young (26), David Hackney (11), and Tarra Simmons (23). The email address for representatives follows the format: firstname.lastname@example.org, for example email@example.com.
All the best,