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.