3/28/21 | Submitted By: Ruth <Boistfortpco@gmail.com> ~~
I know it’s hard to read my emails, and it can seem very overwhelming. But you need to know what is going on. I hope that you send these emails on to others. We need to make sure people understand the sweeping changes being made to all parts of government because of a far-left legislature.
Policies Making our Communities Less Safe
Law and justice reform is huge this year. There is a lot to cover, but I want to touch on just two bills. HB 1078 is one that was passed in both the House and the Senate. It will become law. This bill allows criminals convicted of felonies to be able to vote the minute they get out of prison. That sounds on the surface like a good thing. And I totally support giving people back the right to vote the minute they serve their sentence. The issue here, though, is that there are several phases to a sentence. One is incarceration – prison. But the next phase is often supervised home detention. There is also restitution. Part of a sentence for a crime committed needs to take into account the victim. Should not a rapist or someone who commits a violent theft have any responsibility to pay restitution to the victim? These are all parts of a sentence, and a felon, in my opinion, should not get the right to vote back until his or her debt to society – including restitution to their victim and supervised detention – is paid.
You will see in the news that polls say that the majority of people agree that a person should get their right to vote back when they get out of prison. However, I’m betting those polls don’t take the time to give the context above. You may still agree with the goal of the bill, but at least you should know that there is more to a sentence than just the part that includes incarceration. I am very supportive of helping criminals integrate back into society when they’ve served their time. I think it is absolutely the right thing to do. But I also believe that criminals should serve their entire sentence before getting their rights back.
To make matters worse, the Democrats, in this year’s Legislative Session, have passed multiple bills aimed at getting people out of confinement earlier and earlier. They gutted the 3-strikes-you’re-out policy with SB 5164. SB 5035 changes how far back a court can go on prior drug convictions that would affect sentencing. SB 5118 is a bill that “supports successful reentry” which is another way of saying they are letting more people out of prison to be on home detention. SB 5036 is another. Meanwhile, the victims do not have any increased protections.
Do you think these are good ideas? Read this article about the man who stabbed a Thurston Co. deputy. These are the people they are catering to. Look at what this guy has done in his past. Why was he out of jail? Because of the lenient policies that have been put into place over the past few years. https://www.q13fox.com/news/suspect-identified-in-thurston-county-home-disturbance-involving-injured-deputy
That brings me to another bill to discuss in the law & justice department. As most of you have heard, the courts basically made possession of drugs legal in the recent State v Blake decision. This causes a lot of problems for law enforcement, and it’s letting a lot of people out of jail.
People in jail for possession of a controlled substance must now be released. It is my understanding that the taxpayers may also have to pay them restitution because of their incarceration. Unfortunately, this also includes felons whose charge was actually much greater than possession, but, because of a plea bargain, it was reduced to possession. Those people will be released, as well.
Then there is drug court. Drug court is where a person who is convicted of a drug charge can go to get into a program that surrounds them with the supports, encouragement, and sometimes discipline necessary to get clean and lead a fulfilling life. It’s a successful program, but it only works because a person who is convicted of a drug possession can go into the drug court process instead of being incarcerated. This ruling takes away the mechanism that is used in this process. Many who were going through the process now find that because the charges are now dropped, they no longer qualify.
The members of the legislature drafted several bills to fix the problem. The court opinion said that the reason the ruling was made is because the law doesn’t include the term “knowingly” when it speaks of possession. Senator Mullet then introduced a bill that just added the term “knowingly” to the law. The Democrats refused to pass that bill, supposedly because the deadline had passed for being able to pass a bill in the chamber of its origin. So Senator Padden introduced a bill that would be tied to the budget but would add the term “knowingly” to the law. The tie to the budget means that the bill could be passed, even after the cutoff, but that bill was also refused.
Finally, Senator Dhingra sponsored SB 5476. This bill will make drastic changes to our current drug laws, and it does so without a widespread discussion among stakeholders – stakeholders like law enforcement, prosecutors, victims and their families, people who work in or have gone through the drug court system, behavioral health experts, etc. SB 5476 basically just legalizes all drug possession up to a certain amount.
This is a sweeping piece of legislation that would normally take several years to work out the details. At the very least an entire session. There are many questions that need to be answered. How will we handle minors (or people who provide unlawful drugs to minors)? What about drug court? Should there be any penalty at all for having a controlled substance? Some of these questions are answered at least partially in the bill, but serious consequences have all but been removed for possessing drugs (marijuana is already legal – this would be heroin, cocaine, meth, etc.). A person who possesses a “personal use amount” may be referred to a forensic navigator for evaluation and services, but there is a huge catch. It’s all dependent on whether the budget has the funds for that type of program. If the funds aren’t in the budget, the “help” for addiction will not be there, so we’d end up legalizing without providing treatment.
I disagree with the bill altogether, but even if you agree with the small amounts of possession being legal, this is an issue that should be considered carefully. At the very least, we should change the law to make it unlawful to “knowingly possess” controlled substances and then create a task force to gather information from all those stakeholders and work out a bill that takes everything into account. But unfortunately, the majority is all about removing consequences for bad behavior – not enforcing our laws. Having someone in the neighborhood who is addicted to drugs is harmful to the community. We should make it harder to have that addiction, not easier.
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