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SHB 2486 needs to be voted out of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee by February 28th

Dear Advocate for a Safer Washington, We need your help today, to reduce crime and increase the ability of people who are currently in prison to succeed when they are released. SHB 2486 needs to be voted out of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee before February 28th, if it is to become law. Senators—particularly those who are members of the Majority Caucus—need to hear from you today to make this happen. Click here to view/print this alert as a PDF file that you can share. Why is your advocacy important? Current law prohibits expenditure by the state to support postsecondary education for people in prison. Many of those who oppose SHB 2486 have expressed concern that people in prison are there to be punished, and should not be rewarded with opportunities for a free (or reduced cost) college education. Those opposed to the bill have also shared concerns about the needs of individuals who are not in prison, who are eligible for financial aid to support a college education, but who are not receiving assistance because of the state’s limited resources. The above ignores the following: 1. Crimes committed by people after release by the Department of Corrections (DOC) are a leading cause of incarceration; however, recent research by the Rand Corporation documents reduced recidivism (43 percent) amongst those who take advantage of education programs while in prison. 2. The nonpartisan Washington State Institute for Public Policy has documented $19.62 is saved for each $1.00 spent to support postsecondary education in prison. 3. SHB 2486 allows the DOC to use the best evidence-based practices to help people in prison correct problems that contributed to their incarceration, and it is completely funded from their existing budget (no new allocation requested). Ironically, the long-term goal of providing financial assistance for as many state residents as possible is best served by reducing prison, court, and law enforcement expenditures through investments in postsecondary education for eligible inmates. This reduces the probability these people will commit new crimes when released from prison. In addition to creating safer streets, those who have served their time will benefit from increased skills and knowledge gained while incarcerated. Skills and knowledge that support personal success and help overcome obstacles to employment that could otherwise contribute to choices to commit new crimes. Please contact your state senator today to share the information above and encourage support for SHB 2486: first in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, then on the Senate floor. In Light and Peace, Legislative Committee Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy

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