2022 legislative agenda

LMNW STATEMENT

In light of the nationwide movement for social justice that reached a tipping point in 2020, the Washington State legislature introduced some of the most meaningful sentencing reform bills in the last 40 years. These sentencing reform bills have the potential to significantly reduce countless incarcerated individuals' sentences by years - and even decades in many cases. The bills listed below will be in the upcoming legislative session from January 2022 through spring. The passing of these bills would begin to dismantle institutional racism and disproportionate sentencing practices carried out on Black, Indigenous and POC individuals and communities by Washington State’s criminal justice system. We are calling on your support to help get them passed!

bills to support

Sentencing Enhancements

This bill would eliminate the sentencing enhancements for certain controlled substance violations committed in a protected zone, and enhancements for involving a minor in gang-related felonies. It removes the requirement that a court must order multiple firearm or deadly weapons enhancements to be served consecutively and would leave it to the discretion of the court judge.

The Retroactive Elimination of
Juvenile Points

This bill gives an opportunity to address mass incarceration, promote racial equity, and bring Washington in line with the most current understanding of adolescent brain science. This bill acknowledges recent research in adolescent brain science as a mitigating factor in adult sentencing. It eliminates juvenile adjudications from being used against individuals who are prosecuted for an adult adjudication(s). This legislative change would align Washington’s "sentencing practices" with Washington state existing criminal law. It would unauthorize the use of juvenile adjudications to be calculated as adult felony points and used as a determining factor on an adult sentencing grid. This would begin to undo some "tough on crime" legislation passed throughout the 1990s, that disproportionately targeted/impacted BIPOC youth who lived in communities that experienced high crime rates. Applied retroactively, it would automatically call for mass re-sentencing and sentence reduction for all prisoners whose juvenile adjudications were used against them as an adult. The Washington State DOC already has technical infrastructure statewide to process mass re-sentencing due to recently passed Blake vs State decision.

Update

We are sorry to report This bill has died in the house rules committee this session... we are committed to fighting for it in 2023. Thank you all for your support this year. Please sign on to our Newsletter for regular updates

Emerging Adults Bill

This bill allows a person incarcerated for an offense committed under age 25 to petition the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) for release after serving 15 years, With some exceptions (Aggravated Murder in the First Degree), and requires the ISRB to release the person unless he or she is likely to commit new crimes. Aggravated circumstances lead to a minimum of 25 years before eligibility for petition.

​Why We Support HB1344:

 

​Children and young adults alike are being incarcerated at an alarming rate due to the Sentencing Reform Act in 1981, which did away with parole in the state of Washington. This change in policy has led to maximum sentence lengths for felony defendants sentenced to prison, putting people as young as 16 in for 20 plus year sentences.

 

The Emerging Adults bill will give people who were sentenced as youth a chance to shorten their sentences by participating in positive, productive activities while serving their sentence. These activities in combination with guidance and resources when released, (counseling, housing, job opportunities, etc.) will result in shorter sentences and cut the tax money spent on housing so many in prisons, and will give incentive to those incarcerated individuals under drastic sentences to do schooling or work programs to enhance their chances at a successful reentry, shrinking the prison population dramatically.

This bill will give a chance to people who made mistakes in their youth, and received adult consequences, a chance to redeem themselves and their behaviors and gain more life to live outside of prison.

Update

We are sorry to report This bill has died in the house rules committee this session... we are committed to fighting for it in 2023. Thank you all for your support this year. 

Earned Release Time

Over the past two decades, the length of sentences have increased exponentially in Washington State. At the same time, parole and other forms of release have been stripped away. Due to racial disparities and injustice within the criminal justice legal system, BIPOC - especially Black people, often serve longer sentences than white people. Restoring Washington's earned release time accrual rate to 33% for ALL incarcerated people retroactively would allow people equal opportunity to earn time off their sentence through participation in education, employment, and rehabilitative programming, as well as increase successful reentry and decrease recidivism.

 

Note - The History Of Earned Time

When Washington passed the Sentencing Reform Act in 1984, every incarcerated individual not serving life without parole could earn up to one-third off of their sentence through participation in DOC programming and exhibiting good behavior. In the years since, "tough on crime" legislation driven by federal financial incentives and racist sentencing schemes has chipped away at earned time, resulting in many individuals serving 20 or more years while receiving 10% or less of earned time, despite their participation in programs. Restoring earned time to 33% would create a more equitable and transformative sentencing system by incentivizing positive behavior, educational programing, rehabilitation, and other opportunities that lead to successful reentry.

Update

We are sorry to report This bill has died in the house rules committee this session... we are committed to fighting for it in 2023. Thank you all for your support this year. 

Restitution (Court Fee) Relief

HB1412 would relieve certain types of court fees moving forward.  There are many different types of unnecessary costs placed on individuals facing incarceration. These fees often turn into debt which collects interest over time. HB1412 would eliminate certain fees moving forward - and allow prisoners to apply for retroactive relief if they can prove economic hardship. 

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