News Release

Dana Hicks serves as page in Washington State Senate

March 9th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Dana Hicks, 15, served as a page in the Washington State Senate during the week of March 6.

Pages are typically sponsored by the senator from their legislative district. Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma) sponsored Hicks’s week in the Legislature.

The page program offers a hands-on opportunity for students to find out how state government works. The interactive learning experience includes classes focused on topics like budget writing and how a bill becomes a law, and culminates in pages creating their own bills in a mock committee setting. The educational experience is furthered by guest speakers.

Page Dana Hicks, March 3, 2020.

Page Dana Hicks, March 3, 2020.

“I wrote a bill about classroom sizes in K-6 education for our Page School mock committee and I really enjoyed researching and writing my bill.  I wish I would have had more time to put more breadth and depth into my bill, but this place is fast paced,” said Hicks.

Pages also have the opportunity to work on the Senate floor. Their maroon coats and credentials allow them access to all parts of the Capitol Campus.

“I had the chance to work on the Senate floor on Tuesday and they were debating a really important and contentious bill, and I found it really interesting how both parties strategized their response to the bill being introduced and debated.  Although the Senators had very strong feelings about the bill, I never saw any of them attack each other or say demeaning things to each other.  It was all relatively civil,” added Hicks.

Senate page Dana Hicks with a colleague addressing questions of school children visiting the Washington State Capitol.

Senate pages Sarrah Khan (center) and Dana Hicks (right) address questions of school children visiting the Washington State Capitol.

“Being here has positively impacted me to think about a career in public service because I found out the Senators here have regular jobs outside of the Legislature that they go back to when the session is over.  I really like the idea of having an opportunity to come here and serve my community but still be able to go back to doing something else in my community.  It would give me the opportunity to pursue multiple passions,” remarked Hicks.

Hicks is in the 10th grade at The Science and Math Institute. In her free time, she enjoys restorative justice work, volunteering, and science.

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For more information about the Senate Page Program, contact SenatePageProgram@leg.wa.gov

Senate passes several criminal justice reform bills

March 4th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Several criminal justice reform bills that moved out of the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee last week were passed in the Senate this week.

“We are approving important legislation that puts people first by setting them up to thrive in our communities when emerging from incarceration,” said Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), chair of the Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee. “After someone finishes serving their time, they must be given a true chance to succeed.”

 House bills passed by the Senate this week include:

HB 2576 will direct the state to carry out a study of health and safety issues in private detention/correctional facilities in the state, such as private jails. Additionally, HB 2640, which will clarify that private detention facilities like the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center are not “essential public facilities,” meaning they are subject to local land use regulations and would need approval from local authorities in order to expand.

HB 2393 would allow a qualifying person to earn 10 days’ credit each month they are in compliance with the terms of their community custody. This was recommended by the Washington Criminal Sentencing Task Force to reduce recidivism through incentives for compliance.

HB 2394 would require terms of community custody to run concurrently unless a court expressly orders them to run consecutively. For individuals currently serving sentences, DOC would recalculate scheduled end dates for terms of community custody. This change was recommended by the Washington Criminal Sentencing Task Force to provide clarity for staff and to increase consistency among all counties.

HB 2417 will reform Swift and Certain sanctioning programs for individuals in community custody, allowing DOC to use nonconfinement sanctions for low-level violations and to consider additional circumstances when deciding whether to impose a confinement sanction for low-level violations. DOC requested this change to provide more appropriate sanctions and address concerns over the impact of jail confinement on a person’s stability in the community.

HB 2794 would streamline the sealing of juvenile court records once a youth has turned 18, completed confinement and supervision, and paid restitution owed to any victims.

The Senate and the House of Representatives must reconcile any changes made to these bills in their respective chambers before the governor can sign them into law.

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.