Washington House Advances Critical Community Supervision Reforms

Syrita Bowen News, Press, Washington

Bipartisan Vote Underscores Consensus for Reforms, Clears the Path for Senate Action

(Olympia, WA) – With three nearly unanimous votes, the Washington House of Representatives has approved a critically needed package of community supervision reforms. Taken together these bills would provide new opportunities for qualified individuals to successfully complete community supervision and strengthen their employment prospects and community ties, all while continuing to improve public safety. These forward-thinking pieces of legislation – HB2393, HB2394, and HB2417 – will save Washington taxpayers millions of dollars each year, while providing a path towards rehabilitation for Washingtonians and strengthening communities across the state.

Between 2012 and 2018, the number of people on community supervision in Washington increased 26%. This increase – the result of well-intentioned efforts to decrease the use of prisons for nonviolent offenders – has unnecessarily burdened thousands of people with ineffective, one-size-fits-all supervision practices, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars with little benefit for public safety. In addition, a third of all those on supervision in Washington will spend time in jail over a given year for things as minor as missing a meeting – even if their community supervision officer would prefer not to send them to jail.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45), Rep. Brad Klippert (R-8), and Rep. Lauren Davis (D-32), and the hard work of the members of the House Public Safety Committee. These reforms will help make our communities safer and save taxpayer dollars by giving returning citizens more opportunities to fully reintegrate into their communities. We encourage the Senate to move quickly to pass these bills and bring Washington in line with the national best practices on community supervision,” said Justice Action Network President and Executive Director Holly Harris.

HB2393, sponsored by Rep. Goodman, Rep. Davis, Rep. Klippert, Rep. Ormsby, and Rep. Appleton, creates a new compliance credit which can be earned by supervisees in exchange for qualifying good behavior and case plan adherence. HB2394, also sponsored by Rep. Goodman, Rep. Davis, Rep. Klippert, Rep. Ormsby, and Rep. Appleton, changes the default of multiple sentences to concurrent, not consecutive, unless a court orders otherwise, to reduce the number of people serving long sentences for multiple low-level offenses. And HB2417, sponsored by Rep. Davis and Rep. Peterson, provides greater discretion and encouragement to supervision officers to use alternatives to jails for low-level violations while continuing to keep the public safe.

This package of reforms will put Washington well along on the path to reforming supervision practices, maintaining public safety, saving taxpayer dollars, and supporting more Washingtonians to choose productive, crime-free lives. The bills now move to the Senate where they will be taken up in the coming weeks.