Rising prison populations and high recidivism (re-offense) rates affect all of us in terms of public safety and diversion of limited public funds. A bill before the legislature, developed by the Friends Committee and key allies, will help ex-offenders become successful citizens once they are released.
Ex-offenders usually leave prison with several thousand dollars in financial obligations imposed by their sentence. Currently these obligations draw a 12% interest rate. This high rate demoralizes ex-offenders and often sees them going deeper in debt even while they make payments. SB 5611 now in the House will reduce the interest rate on monetary obligations from the current 12% to 2% points over the T-bill rate, currently about 4.5%. This will lessen the demoralizing burden of ex-offender debt, and make resources available for critical housing, treatment, and family support needs.
SB 5611 is currently in the House Rules committee. We need people to make phone calls or send emails to Rules Committee members to urge them to pull this bill and send it to the floor for a vote. The final day for bills to be voted on and passed is Friday, April 15.
House Rules Members:
Democrats: Speaker Frank Chopp, Chair, 43rd Dist; Brian Blake, 19th Dist; Judy Clibborn, 41st Dist; Dennis Flannigan, 27th Dist; Bill Grant, 16th Dist; Zack Hudgins, 11th Dist; Sam Hunt, 22nd Dist; Lynn Kessler, 24th Dist; John Lovick, 44th Dist; Dawn Morrell, 25th Dist; Alex Woods, 3rd Dist.
Republicans: Glenn Anderson, 20th Dist; Mike Armstrong, 12th Dist; Doug Ericksen, 42nd Dist; Joyce McDonald, 34th Dist, Rodney Tom, 48th Dist.
You can call members through the legislative hotline at 800-562-6000. E-mail addresses for the above members can be can be found at: http://www.leg.wa.gov/email/members/Default.aspx?Chamber=H
We also need people to call and e-mail the Democratic Leadership to tell them there is support for this bill. They have been hesitant to put it forward because they fear being labeled as soft on crime in the next election. They need to be told this is an important bill to a lot of people and that reducing recidivism is certainly not being soft on crime. This bill is important to reduce recidivism, meaning less crime victims, and immense savings in the prison budget.
Please send me a copy of any emails you send on these issues. Thanks.
How to Contact Your Legislators:
During business hours, you can leave a message for all three of your legislators and the Governor at the toll free hotline (the operators can even tell you who your legislators are!) 1-800-562-6000
Use http://dfind.leg.wa.gov/dfinder.cfm to identify your legislators. Contact information for your senators can then be found at http://www.leg.wa.gov/senate/members/default.htm , and for representatives is at http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/default.htm.