Monthly Archives: February 2018

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    Washington Senate passes reforms to reduce recidivism and racial disparities in juvenile justice system

Washington Senate passes reforms to reduce recidivism and racial disparities in juvenile justice system

February 12th, 2018|

The Washington state Senate today passed groundbreaking legislation extending juvenile justice jurisdiction for some youthful offenders to age 25.

Current Washington law requires that 16-17 year olds who commit certain crimes are automatically tried as adults without any consideration of brain development, criminal history, upbringing or other potentially mitigating circumstances. Some of these crimes include: first degree robbery, first-degree burglary (if the offender has a prior felony or misdemeanor), and any violent offense in which the offender is alleged to have been armed with a firearm.

Over the course of two decades, these provisions have been proven to disproportionately impact people of color and increase recidivism due to youthful involvement with the adult criminal justice system.

Senate Bill 6160, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, reforms these provisions and places them within the jurisdiction of juvenile court instead of adult court.

“In making any change to the juvenile justice system, it is critical we keep at the forefront our goal to truly rehabilitate our young people and give them a fair chance to participate in society meaningfully,” said Kuderer. “When one third of offenders incarcerated as a young adult ultimately re-offend, it’s clear we must do more. This legislation takes a significant step to address some of the failings in our system and begin the difficult work of positive change.”

The legislation would also extend the age limit for confinement in a juvenile rehabilitation institution from 21 to 25 for juveniles adjudicated of these offenses.

“We have found that many of the young people who have been incarcerated experienced some kind of significant trauma,” said Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma and chair of the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee. “The evidence is clear that early exposure to the criminal justice system can be seriously detrimental in the development of young lives. Now is the time to move forward from an era of policies which all too often failed to rehabilitate children who make mistakes early in life.”

SB 6160 represents a compromise between all corners of the criminal justice system, including prosecutors, law enforcement professionals, criminal defenders and advocates who work directly with youth.

The bill passed on a vote of 35-12 and now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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    Legislation phasing out youth detention for non-criminal offenses passes Senate

Legislation phasing out youth detention for non-criminal offenses passes Senate

February 7th, 2018|

Landmark legislation to phase out detention of minors for status offenses such as truancy, running away from home, and other non-criminal behavior today passed out of the Washington state Senate.

Washington currently incarcerates more youth than any other state in the country by a significant margin. Senate Bill 5596 would phase out the use of juvenile detention for status offenders by July 1, 2020.

“In 2016, over 1,700 young people were incarcerated for non-criminal behavior in our state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma. “The logic of existing law, that we ought to take kids out of school for failing to attend, is backward. Now is the time for our state to rectify a broken system that has been proven to inflict more harm than good on our young people.”

During the phase-out period leading up to full implementation, the bill requires status offenders in detention to be separated from juveniles detained for criminal offenses.

“Our system is simply not working for the young people and families of our state who are in desperate need of additional resources to address serious obstacles they may be facing in their lives,” added Darneille. “This legislation sends a clear message that incarceration is no longer an acceptable avenue for addressing the barriers our children face on the path to becoming healthy participants in our society.”

SB 5596 passed on a bipartisan 26-22 vote and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Tacoma legislators commend Point Ruston resolution

February 7th, 2018|

Three Tacoma legislators are commending the resolution of the years-long Point Ruston development dispute following the approval of an interlocal agreement forged between the cities of Tacoma and Ruston.

Tacoma Democrats Sen. Jeannie Darneille, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, and Rep. Jake Fey all supported legislation this year that opened fresh dialogue on the waterfront development.

“After being engaged with all parties on this issue for four years, an agreement that makes legislation unnecessary is good news for the residents of Ruston, Tacoma and Point Ruston,” said Jinkins. “I’m glad the bill helped bring all the parties to the table to ensure the success of this development and the rebirth of our waterfront.”

The delays have stalled not only the revitalization of the superfund site but the competitive, living-wage jobs that will be created by these projects.

“The 27th delegation has long had concerns about the process and progress at Point Ruston, a project critical to the economic security of our region and our future as the best community in the Northwest,” said Darneille. “From the outset we have been focused on expediting the project and the conversation we started this year has exceeded our expectations in achieving that end.”

Senate Bill 6487 and House Bill 2880 each passed out of their respective policy committees on Feb. 1st.

“I’m happy that we could help encourage both cities to put their disagreements aside, compromise and finish a project that’s so important to the waterfront of both towns,” said Fey.

With an agreement between Ruston and Tacoma in hand, there is no longer a need for the bills to move forward in the Legislature.