Currently under construction.
The Pretrial Reform Task Force was convened by the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission, the Superior Court Judges’ Association, and the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association in June 2017. The Task Force examined current pretrial practices in Washington and developed consensus-driven recommendations for jurisdictions to improve their pretrial decisions, including bail. Task Force results and recommendations are published in the PretrialReformTaskForceReport.
On a given day in Washington State, up to 50% of the people in county jail are there because they are poor. Cash bail enforces a guilty until proven innocent structure on the poor. It does not have to be this way. According to 2019 studies by the Washington State Auditor, bail alternative services in Yakima and Spokane counties showed the following:
The benefits to those detained because they cannot afford bail are important. Several studies show people who stay in jail before trial often have worse outcomes in their legal cases, even after accounting for factors like criminal history. Multiple studies in different places show remaining in jail before trial increases the probability of conviction, guilty pleas and jail sentences, including longer sentences.JUUstice Washington supported bail reform in the 2019 legislature, but we were not successful at passing the bills. This issue may stand a better chance in the 2020 if we ask our legislators to pay attention to common sense solutions. Kelly Thompson
Pretty impressive document. Issued by the Office of Program Research Washington House of Representatives and published on April 29, 2019. Read more here . . .
MyNorthwest By Hanna Scott, APRIL 18, 2019 AT 4:07 PM The bill to officially end the death penalty in Washington state failed to get a vote ahead of Wednesday’s deadline. . . . That left three possibilities for the Legislature: fix the law, abolish it, or leave the law on the books as is — entirely unenforceable after the court’s decision. State Attorney General Bob favored abolition of the death penalty. He requested a bill to abolish capital punishment. In a House committee last month, Ferguson explained why.
"Leaving an unenforceable law on the books increases the risk that we will repeat history. Four times in our state’s history the courts have struck down Washington’s death penalty in a similar way as just happened – as applied. The previous three times, the legislature implemented fixes to the death penalty that ultimately failed to address its arbitrary and racially biased application. I do not think that going through that again would be something the state should do."There’s been opposition to abolishing Washington’s death penalty from Republicans. Some want to keep it on the books, and others have tried to include amendments that would allow it to be used in certain cases, like when a person who is already serving life without parole kills again while behind bars. . . . That was the case in 2012, when convicted murderer Byron Scherf — who was already serving life without parole — killed Monroe Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl in the prison chapel. Read more here . . .
Washington Supreme Court strikes down state’s death penalty, saying it is ‘arbitrary and racially biased’
Washington Post By Mark Berman October 11, 2018 The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down the death penalty there as unconstitutional and “racially biased,” a ruling that makes it the latest in a string of states to abandon capital punishment in recent years. . . . “The death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner,” the justices wrote. “While this particular case provides an opportunity to specifically address racial disproportionality, the underlying issues that underpin our holding are rooted in the arbitrary manner in which the death penalty is generally administered.” . . . The opinion in Washington was issued in a case that has lingered in the criminal justice system for more than two decades, centering on a man sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Geneine Harshfield in July 1996. Read more here . . .
Community Listening Forums on Implementing I-940 to Improve Police Procedures, May 2 and 8, Kent and Seattle WA
Initiative 940 is officially law in Washington State. However, the road towards implementation has just begun.
We have an opportunity to speak up on how this law is shaped and practiced. Two very crucial components are being developed: law enforcement training and independent investigations (when deadly force is used). We will provide an update on what steps have taken place since its passage and discuss what our communities envision for how this law is carried out. Comments shared at the event will be submitted to the Criminal Justice Training Commission who is responsible for finalizing the new training rules.
The 2019 Legislative Session is officially over.
First, we’d like to recognize the hard work of all of you—our advocacy community. This legislative session was an important one, and because of your action, a number of critical policies (plus an entire 2 year operating budget!) are now a reality. These policies will make a huge difference in the lives and futures of Washington’s communities of color and low-income communities. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send action emails, make phone calls, post on social media, and even come to Olympia to advocate in person—these session wins could not have happened without you!
Let’s look back on session and all that we accomplished together!
On Saturday, April 27, lawmakers met the session deadline and passed a 2 year operating budget. This budget will dictate how our state spends its money over the next 2 years, and what state programs and offices will be funded. Your advocacy created the following investments (for a deeper analysis, click here):
-$14.5 million towards Housing & Essential Needs (HEN), our state’s most effective anti-homelessness program. This investment will help ensure that people experiencing homelessness will receive housing assistance, and will work to diminish the long waiting list for HEN.
-$5.02 million allocation for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC). This investment will fund the implementation of Second Substitute House Bill 1603 which also passed this session, which has eliminated permanent disqualifications and adds a time-limit extension for families experiencing homelessness.
-$175 million towards the Housing Trust Fund, which will fund the development of 5,000 new affordable homes and support anti-homelessness efforts throughout the state.
-$146,000 to support the implementation of a full dental benefit for patients receiving Medical Care Services.
Your advocacy also made some positive changes to the state tax structure. Washingtonians will now see:
-A graduated real estate tax, which will lower the real estate tax for properties valued at $250k or below and raise the tax for properties valued at $1 million and higher.
-Property tax exemptions for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.
-An increased Business & Occupation tax on financial institutions that have an income surpassing a billion dollars.
-The elimination of some outdated tax exemptions, such as a non-resident sales tax exemption.
Overall, we are happy to see much-needed investments in the health and human services programs that low-income children and adults in Washington state rely on during hard times. It is also notable that some modest changes to our upside-down tax code were enforced. However, it is disheartening to see that lawmakers made no significant, truly progressive changes to our state tax code, despite the best efforts of community members to advocate for a tax code that works for everyone, not just wealthy people. A progressive tax on capital gains, which lawmakers ultimately refused to pass, would have generated the necessary revenue to make truly bold investments in anti-poverty programs, and in our state overall. It would have also been a step closer to ensuring that wealthy households paid their fair share in taxes. We will keep up our advocacy work to fight for a state tax code that is truly equitable, and that relies on sustainable revenue streams.
Your advocacy also was integral in passing several important new bills. Among them are:
-The New Hope Act, which allows people with certain felony and/or misdemeanor convictions a second chance by vacating convictions from a criminal record.
-Second Substitute House Bill 1603, which strengthens the state’s TANF program (a program relied on by thousands of low-income families in Washington) by eliminating permanent disqualifications and adding a time-limit extension for families experiencing homelessness.
-A package of consumer protection bills, which lowered the rate on post-judgement interest, regulated rules around garnishment, made key changes to medical debt collections and shady debt collections practices, and offered resources to people struggling to pay their property taxes.
Once again, thank you for your advocacy this session. None of this could have been accomplished without you! Take a minute here to send your lawmaker a note thanking them for their action this session as well.
Send lawmakers a thank you here!
We have just 24 hours left to bring the Death Penalty Repeal bill (SB 5339) up for a vote on the House floor by 5 PM on Wednesday, April 17. Your Representative has the power to bring it to the floor - please ask them to do so as soon as possible! The Supreme Court decision is not enough. It was stalled at this point last year. Now is the time to take this policy off the books!
Please urge your Representative to take action today.
A relatively new phenomenon at East Shore is the Alternative Service Co-op, an attempt to deepen our spirituality by centering marginalized voices.
- In November, they produced a 9:00 am service centering the homeless men staying at our church.
- In February they produced a Black History Month 11:00 am service with three speakers, including Elmer Dixon, one of the founding members of the Seattle Black Panthers.
Reach beyond the mundane
UU perspective on Capital Punishment - as early as 1974
BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1974 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association continues to oppose the death penalty in the United States and Canada, and urges all Unitarian Universalists and their local churches and fellowships to oppose any attempts to restore or continue it in any form.
Washington State Status -
Governor Jay Inslee has placed a moratorium on the death penalty in Washington State.
The Washington State Senate in 2018 session passed a bill that would stop death penalty. The house of representatives did not vote on a parallel bill. UU Voices testified to the Senate Law and Justice committee in favor of the abolition of the death penalty, as did Quakers, Catholics, Ecumenical organizations, and several directors of the Corrections..