One of the issues for which Friends have always had a deep concern is
the question of criminal justice. FCWPP supports rational and humane
approach to criminal justice, best expressed in a policy statement
from the Friends Committee on National Legislation: “We urge our
government to work toward a criminal justice system that is
restorative, seeking to return rehabilitated offenders to society
with the restoration of their full rights and obligations.” There
are two criminal justice issues requiring your immediate action:
1. Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA).
People accused of sex crimes in Washington may be eligible for the
Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative, or SSOSA, which provides
for a small amount of jail time followed by treatment. The SSOSA, in
addition to reducing recidivism rates when applied appropriately, is
an important tool for both prosecutors and defenders. When sex abuse
occurs within a family, often the prosecutor cannot get the family to
cooperate with prosecution unless the SOSSA option is on the table.
Defenders can use SSOSA to encourage plea bargaining. At the same
time, there are many problems with the SSOSA, and it is urgently in
need of re-evaluation and modification. Among the problems that
plague SSOSA: in some cases the jail time provided may not be enough,
there can be conflicts of interest involving providers who evaluate
offenders for SSOSA, and because offenders are required to pay for
SSOSA themselves it is generally unavailable to lower-income
HB 2400, currently under consideration in the House, would
effectively eliminate the SSOSA by adding stiff new sentence
enhancements of up to 10 years for sex crimes, and mandating that all
time must be served in total confinement. HB 2400 addresses a real
problem in a highly politicized manner. It is not based on sound
science or policy, will cost the state nearly $400 million over 6
years – necessitating more cuts in essential social services – and
will eliminate an effective tool for the enforcement of justice. We
do support reforms to the SSOSA system, but they must be meaningful
reforms, based on careful study based on science and statistics.
Good public policy takes time, and this bill is definitely what we
Quakers would call “unseasoned.”
We are told this bill has good prospects for passing. Our hope,
however, is that cooler heads will prevail and that HB 2400 will be
modified to establish a task force that will review the successes and
failures of the SSOSA and make policy recommendations to next year’s
legislature. Our lawmakers are under pressure to pass this bill, and
they need to know they have their constituents’ support as they work
to make HB 2400 as effective as possible.
Please contact your legislators, identify yourself as a constituent
and a Quaker, and tell them you support changes to HB 2400 that would
keep offenders eligible for the SSOSA, establish an interim task
force to make recommendations regarding reforms to the SOSSA, and
hold off on sentence enhancements until the task force
recommendations have been received.
2. THREE STRIKES.
An important goal of FCWPP is to narrow and then ultimately eliminate
the inflexible “Three Strikes” law, which removes judicial discretion
over sentencing of certain serious offenders, and is extremely costly
to taxpayers. SSB 5911 eliminates Second Degree Roberry, in which no
weapon is used and no violence occurs, from Three Strikes. Existing
inmates sentenced to life without parole because of a Robbery 2
conviction would be re-sentenced, saving taxpayers an estimated
$650,000 for the 50 or so inmates expected to be released in 2004 and
$1,300,000 for 2005.
The bill, which was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, will
die unless it is moved by the Senate Rules Committee to the floor and
acted on by this Tuesday, Feb. 17.
Please contact members of the Senate Rules Committee, and urge them
to act favorably on this bill, by calling the legislative hotline,
1-800-562-6000, or by telephoning them directly:
Shirley Winsley, vice chair
|Linda Evans Parlette
|Mary Margaret Haugen
NEWS ON PREVIOUS ALERTS:
Rep. Pettigrew’s hunger bill, HB 2769, has passed the House and is on
its way over to the senate. All representatives except Boldt,
Hinkle, Mielke and Schindler supported the bill. Make sure to
mention it when you call your legislators – thank your
representatives, and ask for your senator’s support. SB 6411, the
companion bill, was not voted out of Senate Ways & Means before the
cutoff date, so our hopes are riding on the House bill.
The “Eco-Terrorism” bill, SB 6114, was also not voted out of Ways &
Means before cutoff.
HB 2654, calling for a report of tax exemptions to be provided with
the governor’s budget proposal each biennium, has passed out of the
House with only 12 “No” votes. The other three tax fairness and
accountability bills we supported – HB 2762, 2930 and 3076 – were not
voted out of the House Finance committee before cutoff.
Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators about these
If you can, identify yourself as a Friend (Quaker) when contacting
legislators in response to these Alerts. It helps us in our work in
Contact your FCWPP Lobbying Team, Eve Rickert and Alan Mountjoy-
Venning at stellamom”at”pobox.com (please insert the @ symbol –
publishing e-mail addresses in public websites exacerbates spam
problems) or by calling 360 754-3290.
Use http://dfind.leg.wa.gov/dfinder.cfm to find who your legislators
Contact information for your senators can be found at
Contact information for representatives is at