Monthly Archives: February 2020

Update from Olympia

February 20th, 2020|

Dear neighbors:

Please don’t forget to join us this Saturday for the 27th Legislative District town hall in Tacoma! It will take place from 10 am to noon at the Eastside Community Center, 1721 E 56th St., Tacoma.

 

 

In other news, the 2020 legislative session has been a whirlwind of activity, and last night we wrapped up another phase.  Yesterday marked the cutoff deadline for bills to pass out of the chamber where they were introduced. Only these bills will move forward as the session advances.

Below you’ll find information on criminal justice reform bills I’m proud to have helped move forward, and that I’ll continue to support through the session.

Senate Bill 5488 is a bill I sponsored that would allow judges to use discretion when making sentencing decisions for a juvenile who has been tried in adult courts for a felony committed while under the age of 18. Judges would be allowed to depart from mandatory sentencing guidelines to take into account factors indicating maturity such as age, lack of sophistication, susceptibility to peer pressure, and youStatue of lady justice holding scales of justice and sword, deep blue sky in background with wispy clouds.thfulness at the time of the offense.

This bill codifies recent decisions from the Washington Supreme Court that recognized judges’ authority to use their discretion for sentencing juveniles, and acknowledged neuroscientific research showing that the brain does not fully develop until age 25.

Senate Bill 5291 is another bill I sponsored, and it would give more parents who are found guilty of crimes the opportunity to maintain bonds with their children by serving time through a parenting sentencing alternative. The bill would expand eligibility for existing programs that allow people to receive intensive community supervision and services while on electronic home monitoring in lieu of incarceration.

Not only do family sentencing alternatives help to maintain family bonds and improve the lives of children, they also provide participants with better outcomes and reduce recidivism because they receive more intensive case management and other services, such as parenting classes and counseling.

House Bill 2640 is the companion to a bill I sponsored in the Senate. It would clarify that private for-profit facilities like the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center are not “essential public facilities,” and are not exempt from local land use regulations. This means under the City of Tacoma’s local land use regulations, that facility can expand only if it is approved for a permit through the City’s conditional use permit process.

The current statute (RCW 36.70A.200) lists types of state, regional, and local facilities that are considered essential public facilities and not subject to local development regulations. Federal or privately owned and operated facilities and detention centers are not listed in the statute. This legislation would settle this issue and prevent continued litigation costs to Tacoma taxpayers.

Senate Bill 6112 would prohibit the use of solitary confinement in juvenile institutions and would place restrictions on the use of other types of isolation. Research shows solitary confinement does not improve behavior and is emotionally and psychologically damaging to young people.

This legislation would align Washington’s laws with those of 10 other states that have similarly limited solitary confinement for juveniles in recognition of its harm and lack of effectiveness.

I’ve been happy to work on these bills as well as countless other meaningful bills under consideration thus far. I was also pleased to sponsor Senate Resolution 8681 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters on February 14.

Stay tuned for more e-news updates as the session continues. My office will continue to welcome your thoughts and concerns throughout the session, so please let us know what issues are important to you and your community!

Sincerely,

Jeannie Darneille

Senate passes bill to reform youth sentencing guidelines

February 18th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Legislation passed today by the Senate would permit courts to consider the maturity of a defendant in sentencing decisions.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), Senate Bill 5488 would allow judges to use discretion when making sentencing decisions for a juvenile who has been tried in adult courts for a felony committed while under the age of 18. Judges would be allowed to depart from mandatory or standard sentencing guidelines to take into account factors indicating maturity such as age, lack of sophistication, susceptibility to peer pressure, and youthfulness at the time of the offense.

“This bill codifies recent decisions from the Washington Supreme Court in State v. Houston-Sconiers and State v. O’Dell,” said Darneille. “These cases acknowledged the authority of superior courts to exercise discretion when sentencing juveniles, and recognized neuroscientific research showing that the brain does not fully develop until age 25. This aligns our laws with modern advances in the juvenile justice system.”

The Houston-Sconiers case stemmed from an incident where two Tacoma teenagers ages 16 and 17 robbed Halloween candy from several people and received sentences of 31 years and 26 years, respectively. The supreme court decision permitted resentencing that took into account their youthfulness at the time of the events and allowed sentence enhancements to be served concurrently for that reason.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Senate approves expansion of sentencing alternatives

February 17th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Today the Senate passed legislation that would expand access to alternatives to incarceration for parents convicted of certain crimes and who have minor children.

 Existing programs allow eligible persons to receive intensive community supervision and services in lieu of incarceration. Senate Bill 5291, sponsored by Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), would expand eligibility and add more types of parental relationships that qualify for these alternatives to incarceration.

“Research shows children of incarcerated parents are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system, as well,” said Darneille. “Family sentencing alternatives are meant to maintain family bonds and end the cycle of criminal activity.

“People who participate in these alternatives also have better outcomes than those who are simply released on community custody. They receive more intensive case management and other services, such as parenting classes and counseling.”

All participants are on electronic home monitoring during the program.

The rate of return to prison on new felonies for people who have completed these sentencing alternative programs is just 11%, compared to 33.5% for people who have not had access to such programs.

 The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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    MEDIA ADVISORY: 27th Legislative District town hall meeting on Feb. 22

MEDIA ADVISORY: 27th Legislative District town hall meeting on Feb. 22

February 17th, 2020|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 17, 2020

WHO: Sen. Jeannie DarneilleSpeaker Laurie Jinkins and Rep. Jake Fey, the legislators from the 27th Legislative District representing part of Pierce County, including Tacoma, Ruston, Browns Point and Dash Point.

WHAT: Town hall meeting with 27th District constituents

WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 22 (sign-in begins at 9:30 a.m.)

WHERE: Eastside Community Center, 1721 E 56th St., Tacoma (Pierce Transit bus lines #41 and #54)

WHY: The 27th District legislators will provide an update on the 2020 session and answer questions from constituents about issues under consideration in the Legislature.