Social and Economic Policy
Criminal Justice

The League of Women Voters of Washington recognizes the need for a “criminal justice system that is just, effective, equitable, transparent, and that fosters public trust at all stages, including policing practices, pre-trial procedures, sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry.”


Issue Team Chair: Heather Kelly, hkelly@lwvwa.org
 DOWNLOAD the Criminal Justice Issue Paper
Interested in getting involved with this topic? Click here! 


Bill Tracking

Weekly Reports


Bill Descriptions


Get Involved

Overview

In 2022, there was significant pushback against the police reform legislation passed in 2021. Some of that legislation was clarified, and an attempt to overturn restrictions on vehicular pursuits was narrowly defeated. A bill to limit the legal financial obligations owed by defendants passed, but most other criminal justice reform bills did not move forward and will be renewed again this year.

A top legislative priority in 2023 will be coming up with a long-term response to the Washington Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in State v. Blake, which held that current state drug possession laws were unconstitutional. That same year, the legislature passed a stop-gap fix that ends in July. They now have an opportunity to acknowledge that substance use disorder should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue, and to ensure that sufficient funding and resources exist for treatment. In addition, although the legislature made great strides in addressing the need for police reform and accountability in 2021, more work needs to be done.

This year we’ll be advocating for bills that: (1) limit the use of traffic stops, (2) create a private right of action for those harmed by police violence, (3) empower the Attorney General’s Office to investigate patterns and practices of misconduct in law enforcement agencies, and (4) creating a statewide Office of Independent Prosecutor to make charging decisions in cases of serious or deadly use of force by law enforcement officers.

We’re also supporting legislation to reform sentencing laws, including bills that: (1) extend the age for review of juvenile sentences so that people who committed crimes under age 25 (instead of age 18) can seek review after serving 15 years, (2) exclude juvenile dispositions (juvenile points) from offender score calculations used to determine how long an adult sentence will be, and (3) limit the use of sentencing enhancements for certain drug and firearms violations.

Finally, we will be advocating for a bill that significantly restricts the use of solitary confinement in Washington prisons, in line with international standards.


Bill Tracking

Senate Bills Senate House After Passage
Bill # Bill Name (Brief Title) League Position Take Action In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  Passed Legislature On Governor's Desk Signed
SB 5046 Postconviction Access to Counsel Support

x








SB 5101 Extraordinary Medical Placement Support

x








SB 5128 Jury Diversity Support

x








SB 5135 Ending long-term solitary confinement Support
x








SB 5352 Vehicular pursuits Oppose

x








SB 5361 Encouraging hiring of more police officers Oppose
x








SB 5451 Review of long sentences for youthful offenders Support

x








House Bills House Senate After Passage
Bill # Bill Name (Brief Title) League Position Take Action In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  In Committee On Floor Calendar Passed  Passed Legislature On Governor's Desk Signed
HB 1024 Real Labor Real Wages Act Support

x








HB 1025 Private Right of Action for People Harmed by Peace Officers Support
x








HB 1080 Body Worn Cameras Support

x








HB 1087 Ending Long-Term Solitary Confinement Support

x








HB 1089 Support Adults with Lived Experience of Sex Trafficking Support

x








HB 1114 Expanding Sentencing Guidelines Commission Support

x








HB 1134 Implementing 988 System Support

x








HB 1169 Legal Financial Obligations Support

x








HB 1174 Ensuring Access for Voters in Jails Support

x








HB 1177 Cold Case Investigations of MMIP Support

x








HB 1324 Scoring juvenile offenses Support
x








HB 1363 Vehicular pursuits Oppose

x








HB 1445 AG Investigation and Reform Support
x









Weekly Reports

These weekly updates will provide you with a "deep dive" into the progress of each bill, along with more analysis of the potential impact of the bill if it should pass. 


Bill Descriptions

SB 5046 Expands Postconviction Access to Counsel. This bill expands the circumstances in which counsel may be appointed at state expense to someone who has been convicted and requires the Office of Public Defense to study the barriers to providing postconviction counsel to indigent people.

SB 5101 Extraordinary Medical Placement for Incarcerated Individuals. This bill expands eligibility criteria and modifies electronic monitoring requirements for individuals granted extraordinary medical placement by DOC. .

SB 5128 Increasing Jury Diversity. This bill requires collection of data on juror demographics and provides additional compensation for jurors who qualify for certain low-income programs.

SB 5352/HB 1363 Rolling Back Limitations on Vehicular Pursuits. These bills would roll back the common-sense 2021 limitations on vehicular pursuits that have reduced deaths and made our communities safer.

SB 5361 Encouraging Local Governments to Hire More Police Officers. This bill authorizes cities and counties to impose additional sales and use taxes to hire more law enforcement officers. It does not prioritize alternative responses and ignores data showing a lack of correlation between crime rates and the number of police officers.

SB 5383/HB 1428 Banning Jaywalking. These bills address the longtime racial bias in enforcement of jaywalking laws and allow pedestrians to cross a roadway at any point as long as it’s reasonably safe to do so.

SB 5451/HB 1325 Allowing Review of Long Sentences for Crimes Committed Before Age 25. Currently, people who committed crimes before age 18 can have lengthy sentences reviewed. This bill would increase the age from 18 to 25, recognizing that brain science shows that our brains do not become fully developed until age 25.  

HB 1024 Real Labor Real Wages Act. This bill ensures that people who are incarcerated are paid a fair wage for the labor they perform and ensures that people are not required to pay for the cost of incarceration. It also increases the amount of earnings that will be placed in a savings account for each incarcerated person. 

HB 1025 Private Right of Action for People Harmed by Peace Officers. This bill authorizes a private right of action for violations of the state Constitution or state law by peace officers—the state equivalent of a federal §1983 action. It does not allow peace officers to rely on the qualified immunity defense to avoid liability—i.e., it is not a defense that the law was not “clearly established” with respect to the acts or omissions at issue.

HB 1080 Release of Body Camera Recordings. This bill authorizes the release of unredacted body camera footage, subject to potential restrictions on use and prohibits law enforcement and corrections agencies from charging for unredacted recordings.

HB 1087/SB 5135 Ending Long-Term Solitary Confinement. These bills recognize that long-term solitary confinement constitutes torture under international law and causes severe psychological trauma. They state that people who are incarcerated may not be placed in solitary confinement except for emergencies, medical isolation, or when requested by the person who is incarcerated. They limit the number of days that people can be held in solitary confinement and ban the practice for  vulnerable people, such as those with mental or physical disabilities and pregnant people. 

HB 1089 Supporting Adults with Lived Experience of Sex Trafficking. This bill provides for creation of a network of healing, support, and transition services for adults with lived experience of sex trafficking, tailored to the self-determined needs of each individual.

HB 1114 Expanding Membership of the Sentencing Guidelines Commission. This bill expands membership on the sentencing guidelines commission for 20 to 24 and ensures that more communities and areas of expertise are represented on the commission.

HB 1134 Implementing the 988 System. This bill helps to implement and advertise the new 988 behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system. 

HB 1169 Legal Financial Obligations. This bill builds upon HB 1412 passed last year and allows for the waiver of certain legal financial obligations owed by defendants who have been convicted..

HB 1174  Ensuring Access for Voters in Jails. This bill requires county auditors to create a jail voting plan for each jail in the county and requires jails to provide access to voting materials to people in jail in accordance with the voting plan. It also mandates that jails allow election officials to enter the jails at least 30 days before each primary and general election to provide voter registration outreach and education.

HB 1177 Creating a Cold Case Investigations Unit for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. This bill creates the Cold Case Investigations Unit within the Attorney General’s Office to assist law enforcement agencies with solving cold cases involving missing and murdered indigenous people.

HB 1324/SB 5475 Eliminating Juvenile Offenses from Sentencing Range Calculations. These bills remove juvenile offenses from the scoring calculations used to determine sentencing ranges.

HB 1354 Volunteering in Schools After a Criminal Conviction. This bill limits the circumstances under which a school may deny a parent’s volunteer application based on a previous criminal conviction.

HB 1445 Attorney General Investigations and Reform. This bill gives the Attorney General’s Office the authority to investigate law enforcement and local corrections agencies that have engaged in systemic violations of the Washington constitution or state laws.

How To Be Involved

Read and take action through the LWVWA Legislative Newsletter that comes out each week during the legislative session; join the LWVWA Criminal Justice Action group by emailing hkelly@lwvwa.org or dcarstens@lwvwa.org.


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