Information for Unemployed Workers

April 13th, 2020|

Dear neighbors,

The good news is Washingtonians are doing a great job at following the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, and the curve is beginning to flatten. We have to keep up the good work and continue to stay home in order to make sure the curve continues to flatten.

Unfortunately, with so many people out of work, it’s no wonder there is a strain on our unemployment insurance system right now. As you know, this has left many people frustrated and anxious about whether they will be able to access these vital benefits.

At the same time, many of us have realized that the immigrant community is being hit particularly hard, with many unable to qualify for unemployment, the federal stimulus, and other government relief programs.

Today I’d like to share some information from the Employment Security Department, along with a list of resources for immigrants dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accessing Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The Employment Security Department (ESD) has been receiving record numbers of new claims for unemployment insurance, including extremely high numbers of phone calls and emails. We know many people have questions about the recent federal stimulus package and the enhancements to eligibility and available benefits for individuals.

To address your questions and to find out more information, please do not call their toll-free numbers first. Instead, visit their website at esd.wa.gov. There you will likely find answers to the questions you were going to ask and you will get them sooner than you will waiting on a back-up phone line. You can also sign up for action alerts to receive the most up-to-date information on these benefits. So please view the ESD’s Frequently Asked Questions for Workers and also for Businesses and use their checklist before applying for benefits.

To be clear, ESD’s toll-free numbers need to be reserved for individuals who need assistance with claims that have been filed. So, again, check their website, which has answers to most questions you may have.

COVID-19 Resources for Immigrants

Click here for a comprehensive list of resources to help our state’s immigrant community through the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This bilingual English/Spanish guide provides links to:

  • general COVID-19 information in various languages
  • federal, state and county resources
  • information on education, housing and unemployment
  • resources specifically for undocumented folks
  • resources for Muslim communities
  • mutual aid, well-being, and anti-racism resources

Washington Food Fund

While facing the impacts of the current crisis, an estimated 1.6 million Washingtonians are at risk of not having enough to eat, and that number is expected to grow in the coming weeks. While our statewide food supply remains steady and grocery stores continue to receive deliveries, donations to food banks and pantries have dropped dramatically while demand has skyrocketed.

Woman handing a bag of groceries to an older man

This week, Governor Inslee joined key nonprofits and philanthropies to launch the WA Food Fund, a new statewide public-private relief fund to coordinate and distribute food and supplies to food banks and pantries across the state. The state of Washington is

working hard to make sure everyone has access to food during this crisis.

The curve is flattening and the weather is great, but please do not give into the temptation to start gathering with friends and loved ones. The COVID-19 crisis is not over, and it will not subside unless we keep up the good work, be consistent, and continue to follow the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Doing so will keep you and your loved ones healthier and will literally save lives.

As always, please feel free to reach out to my office. We want to do everything we can to support you in these difficult times.


Sen. 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.

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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|


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.

When Running Away From Home Means Getting Locked Up

April 8th, 2019|

A must read from The Appeal. Thank you to Charlotte West for her work looking at Washington state and our efforts to end detention for status offenses.

March 22 Newsletter

March 22nd, 2019|

“For all my years in public life, I have believed that America must sail toward the shores of liberty and justice for all. There is no end to that journey, only the next great voyage. We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make.”

-Edward Kennedy

Liberty and justice for all

You may know that I focus much of my work in the Legislature on improving the lives of children and youth in our state. I serve on the Ways and Means Committee that writes the budget. Among all of its columns and numbers are the programs we use to improve those lives; our child care system, our early childhood education programs, our K-12 education system, and our higher education institutions. We all recognize that the bright future for these children is linked to our health as a state and nation.  

I serve on the Housing Stability & Affordability Committee, where we are working to end homelessness by increasing the stock of affordable housing in our state. 40,000 school-aged youth and their families are homeless or at immediate risk for homelessness. Additionally, I am a member of the Behavioral Health Subcommittee, addressing the mental health and substance use treatment for both adults and children. 

Finally, I am the Chair for the Human Services, Reentry, and Rehabilitation Committee, where we work on issues relating to children’s safety, foster care, and juvenile justice, as well as issues relating to public assistance programs and the adult corrections system. 

I wanted to spend a few moments writing about some of the justice-related bills that I have introduced this session and which have already moved from the Senate to the House for consideration. 


Sen. Darneille presides as Chair

SB 5288 “Sentencing for Persistent Offenders”

Initiative 593, which put our 3-strikes laws on the books, passed by a wide margin in 1993 to keep persons who have been convicted of three very serious crimes in prison for life without parole. While most of the many crimes listed in the Initiative are Class A Felonies or very serious crimes, Robbery in the 2nd Degree is neither a very serious offense or one that involves any injury to another person. SB 5288 would remove Robbery in the 2nd Degree from the 3-strikes list, so would not result in one of the toll of crimes that would result in a life sentence. The standard range for penalty would remain up to 10 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.

SB 5290 “Eliminating the use of the valid court order exception to place youth in detention for noncriminal behavior”

Washington State juvenile courts currently incarcerate more children for what are known as “status offenses” than any other state in the US.  A status offense is not a crime, but includes things like truancy, being incorrigible or oppositional, smoking, drinking, running away from foster care, or breaking curfew. The bill proposes to phase out the use of this federal allowance to jail children for these offenses. 26 states have already stopped this practice, and every other state jails fewer children than Washington. Over 800 children every year face jail time for these offenses; the bill would instead promote a service-based response to youth and families.

SB 5291 “An act relating to alternatives to total confinement for certain persons with minor children”

This bill expands access to a successful program that has deferred or reduced the sentences for some parents. Instead of incarceration, these parents remain with or are reunited with their children. These sentencing alternatives involve intensive supervision, parenting guidance, electronic home monitoring, meeting contractual goals for positive interactions with children, and having no further infractions or criminal activity. This program has resulted in reducing recidivism rates while giving parents the ability to return to gainful employment and enjoy the benefits found in an intact family.

SB 5876 “Creating a gender-responsive and trauma-informed work group within the Department of Corrections”

Last fall, I was able to visit nearly 50 women prisoners who were transferred from the women’s prison at Purdy to the Yakima County Jail. I discovered that the conditions were deplorable and did not match the programming expectations and values of the State of Washington corrections system. The women were mixed with women in the general jail population, so coercion, assault, and tensions were very high. There was no programming. Many experienced anxiety so high that they were medicated. There was no accommodation for women with disabilities. The food was intolerable. The women had no ability to observe their religious traditions. I was very proud that my efforts to move these women to a better facility was accomplished with the Governor’s help within three months. But that experience raised my awareness that there was really very little effort to identify gender-responsive programming and that we must work toward the rehabilitative needs of women inside these facilities.

Inside Olympia

To hear more about the topics I’ve been working on and the approach I have taking on these issues, please take some time to watch this week’s edition of Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins. I appeared with Sen. Maureen Walsh to discuss many of the topics above.

Floor Debate

Sen. Darneille speaks during floor action

Town Hall

Lastly, I want to ensure you’ve been invited to our annual 27th Legislative District Town Hall taking place tomorrow morning.

Rep. Jinkins, Rep. Fey, and I will be hosting a forum at the Eastside Community Center from 10:00am-12:00pm to report back on the ongoing legislative session and take your questions.

The Eastside Community Center is located at:

1721 E 56th St, Tacoma, WA 98404

We can’t wait to see you there!

Take care,


Sen. Jeannie Darneille

Inside Olympia – Justice For All

March 21st, 2019|

Here is the link to the full episode of Inside Olympia talking with Austen Jenkins about justice issues! We’ve got so many important issues facing the Legislature this year, but we must continuing fighting to ensure our justice system is working for all.

Thanks to Sen. Walsh for her thoughtfulness in our continued dialogue.

Town Hall – March 23

March 8th, 2019|

Please join Rep. Jinkins, Rep. Fey, and I for a 27th district town hall on March 23rd. We’ll be gathering at the Eastside Community Center to hear from you and report back on the 2019 legislative session!

Conversation Hours this Spring

April 19th, 2018|

Join Sen. Jeannie Darneille, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, and Rep. Jake Fey for informal conversation hours around Tacoma. Be sure to bring your thoughts, questions and concerns about state government or legislative issues. See you soon!


Tuesday, May 1

6:00 p.m.

Bay Terrace Community Room

2550 South G Street

Tacoma, WA


Tuesday, May 8

6:00 p.m.

Telephone Town Hall

You can either sign up to receive a call ahead of time by visiting https://vekeo.com/whdc27 or you can call in the evening of the event by dialing 877-229-8493 and entering the pin number 116282.


We hope to see or hear from you then!



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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.