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Criminal Justice and Mental Health Alert: PBS Frontline Program and bill E2SSB 5763 awaits Governor’s Signature

PBS Frontline is presenting a program on how the mentally ill people end up incarcerated in our prison system:  Nearly ten times as many mentally ill Americans are in prison as in psychiatric hospitals. In Ohio 16% of inmates have been diagnosed with a mental illness (a typical state percentage). The New Asylums, a PBS Frontline program will air Tues. May 10, at 10:00 p.m. and examines this problem via the Ohio corrections system. We recommend this program to you to better understand these problems which face our state also. (After the program additional information on the topic and the program can be found at:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/asylums. An online version of the program will also be available for your viewing.)   The Omnibus Treatment of Mental and Substance Abuse Disorders Act Of 2005 (E2SSB 5763), which passed the legislature, contains provisions that address these issues. This bill is currently awaiting approval by Governor Gregoire. Among other…

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SB 5611: Criminal Justice Alert

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.   Action Needed:   SB 5611 is currently in the House Rules committee. …

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Estate Tax Alert

Call your Legislators on March 30   In coordination with the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition of which FCWPP is a participant,  we want legislators to hear from us in support of an estate tax on March 30.  Your call will add impact to a scheduled press event on March 29 featuring William Gates, Sr. and the release of a new report on the Estate Tax by the Economic Opportunity Institute.  The toll free number for legislators is 1-800-562-6000.  Addresses can be found at www.leg.wa.gov.  Talking points on the estate tax are below: Second, please send a letter to the editor   When you see a story about the estate tax, or about budget cuts because there’s not enough revenue, PLEASE send a letter to the editor using the points below, and send us a copy.  LTE’s are widely read, and influence the debate.  This issue will be decided in April,…

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Criminal Justice Alert: SB 5611 Changing the interest rate on legal financial obligations / SJR 8206 Prison Labor

It has been a wild week in Olympia.  We thank those of you who called your legislators on the three criminal justice bills SB 5339, SB 5611 and HB 1359.  A flurry of last minute calls almost resulted in the passage of SB 5339 related to discharge of sentence and restoration of civil rights, including the right to vote, for offenders who have served all their time in prison and community custody (parole), and are doing all they can to pay their monetary obligations.  Senator Eide's Legislative Aide said we had a great phone mobilization effort.     1.         SB 5611  Changing the interest rate on legal financial obligations The good news is that SB 5611 related to reducing the interest rate on Legal and Financial obligations passed on the floor of the Senate.  However its House counterpart, HB 1359 was not voted on, apparently due to criticism of being soft on crime.    SB 5611 will…

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Criminal Justice Alert

Criminal justice bills originated by FCWPP and its Transition & Reentry Reform Coalition have moved to the floor of the legislature (SB 5339, SB 5611, HB 1359), and are expected to be scheduled for debate and vote between now and Wednesday.  Please contact your legislators now and urge them to approve these bills!   Background:   HB 1359 in the state house of representatives and SB 5611 in the senate will reduce the interest rate on monetary obligations included in criminal judgments from the current 12% to 2% points over the T-bill rate, currently about 4.5%. This lessens the demoralizing burden of ex-offender debt, and makes more ex-offender resources available for critical housing, treatment, and family support needs.    SB 5339 allows a discharge of sentence and restoration of civil rights, including the right to vote, for offenders who have served all their time in prison and community custody (parole), and are…

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