Despite the shortness of the session, continued budget strife, and partisan gridlock, Friends’ efforts produced results that exceeded expectations. We created two big changes in corrections law and policy, and helped pass additional significant legislation.
- FCWPP led the effort to pass SHB 1775 supporting juvenile restorative justice. This voluntary process brings together offenders, victims, and family and community members to jointly work out ways to restore all.
- The Secretary of State’s office adopted language that FCWPP has long recommended, clarifying that former prisoners no longer under the authority of the Department of Corrections can vote.
- FCWPP was one of many supporters of the marriage equality bill that swept through the legislature to enactment early in the session.
- We supported retention of “safety net” social welfare programs for the vulnerable among us; although some were cut, none were eliminated. FCWPP also continued laying the foundation for future changes in law, consistent with our values and testimonies, although these efforts did not lead to passage of legislation this year.
- FOR the repeal of the death penalty,
- FOR the re-institution of the possibility of parole for long-term prisoners on the basis of educational and other efforts in prison,
- FOR the Washington Investment Trust, and
- FOR the Joint Memorial to End the War in Afghanistan.
Our Legislative Advocate and Policy Analyst, Steven Aldrich, worked tirelessly with the FCWPP Legislative Committee to identify bills that are consistent with our priorities, and met with dozens of legislators, their aides, and allied groups to help advance our objectives. A total of 12 Action Alerts and Updates were emailed to activists during the past year; most were posted on our website (www.fcwpp.org). In addition, FCWPP supporters who live in the districts of crucial “swing vote” legislators were individually contacted and encouraged to lobby those legislators when their votes were most needed. We thank all of you who participated in lobbying efforts by contacting legislators through phone or email, speaking with them in person, testifying at public hearings, and encouraging friends and neighbours to do the same.
Quaker Lobby Day: February 20, 2012
Our fourth annual Quaker Lobby Day attracted 44 Friends, who met at Olympia Friends Meetinghouse where they were welcomed by keynote speaker Senator Debbie Regala. Following a brief worship period, participants split into small groups for focused discussions on the three major FCWPP issue areas: Criminal Justice, Economic 2 Justice, and Local Responses to Global Challenges in preparation for lobbying. We spent the afternoon on the capitol campus, meeting and lobbying legislators and their aides from twelve legislative districts. Friends who participated this year reported that meetings with legislators and/or their aides generally went well. Economic Justice FCWPP supported the generally successful retention of the “safety net” programs that include Basic Health, Disability Lifeline, Apple Health for Kids, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. FCWPP helped keep $315 million in the budget so that 20,000 disabled, low-income Washingtonians will continue to receive health care through the Disability Lifeline program we helped preserve, and to make sure the 35,000 low-income people in our state who were still able to purchase health insurance through Basic Health after last year’s cuts will not lose that ability. Apple Health for Kids was also preserved so that children will continue to have access to needed health care. In addition, FCWPP helped implement the federal health care reform act by supporting legislation to create a Health Insurance Exchange that will better control premium costs, make us all more informed health care consumers, and increase access to needed coverage.
Restorative Justice for juvenile offenders: SHB 1775. Our restorative justice legislation brings together victims, non-violent juvenile offenders, relevant community members, and families and supporters in a voluntary, facilitated conference. The conference goal is for the offender to take responsibility for any harm he or she has done, and for all to agree to actions the offender can take to right any wrong in order to restore all parties. Originally drafted by criminologist and Olympia Friend, Paul McCold, on behalf of FCWPP, the final bill benefitted from collaboration of FCWPP with the nonprofit Crime Victim Advocates. Our bill defines Restorative Justice in order to encourage the best, evidenced-based practices, and affirms Restorative Justice as an appropriate form of diversion for juvenile criminal cases being diverted in order to increase its utilization.
Implementing Voting Rights for Ex-prisoners: The Voting Rights Restoration Act, enacted in 2009, gave ex-prisoners no longer under the authority of the Department of Corrections the right to vote. But misleading language on the voter’s affidavit on the ballot envelope remained. After almost giving up as a lost cause our insistence that the Secretary of State’s office change the wording, that office adopted the language that FCWPP had been recommending – language that makes clear that former prisoners no longer under the authority of the Department of Corrections can vote.
Effort to Repeal the Death Penalty: We got a hearing to continue educating legislators on the costs and immorality of a death penalty, although we have not yet persuaded legislators to pass a bill to rescind it. Parole: Although the bill to consider granting prisoners early release based on achievements while in prison did not pass this session, we are hopeful support shown at the hearing will encourage the Sentencing Guidelines Commission to review the issue between sessions. FCWPP, as part of the People for Parole coalition, also hopes legislators will work with this coalition to prepare legislation supporting parole for consideration next session.
Local Responses to Global Challenges
Keeping our water clean: FCWPP joined environmental organizations to oppose language in a natural resources bill that took away individuals’ and organizations’ right to petition the Growth Management Board. This language was removed from the final bill that did pass.
Washington Investment Trust (State Bank): This proposal, which would leverage monies held for short periods by Washington State to help stimulate our economy and support student and business loans, received hearings in both chambers again this year, but was not advanced out of committee.
– The FCWPP Legislative Committee, April, 2012