‘Swift and certain’ parole program passes SenateApril 6th, 2012 by Steven Gardner
In March we had a story about the state Department of Corrections program that would be part of a number of changes affecting Kitsap County jail. The program passed the state Senate today. I’ll post the Senate Democrats press release after this little comment.
Kitsap Sun commenters caught the quote from Chad Lewis, state Department of Corrections spokesman, who said Corrections considered the program because it would cost less to implement how it handles parole violators now. What commenters apparently missed was the second part.
Lewis said the new, less expensive, program works better.
Hence the reference to the Pew Center on the States study that reported the same program in Hawaii meant violators were “less likely to be arrested for a new crime, to use drugs and to have their probation revoked.”
Because commenters missed or ignored that part of the story, the ongoing argument was over taxes, budgets and liberal and conservative spending values. That argument was not completely inappropriate, because the state did go into this looking for cost savings, which means the corrections budget is being cut. And it does translate to bad news for the county, because there is less money for the budget.
Still, did the point “It costs less and works better” pass by everyone? Did I write the story that badly? Be honest.
In some ways I thought this was a good news story, though clearly it’s tough for the county jail to be counting on less money. The positive, though, was in someone’s ability to take advantage of a crisis, to find a solution perhaps no one would have sought had there not been a problem.
Apparently the state Senate thought it was a good idea. The bill allowing for the program passed 43-2.
Senate passes bill reforming community supervision
OLYMPIA – Offenders who violate the terms of their community supervision will be dealt with swiftly and with tried and true methods under a bill passed today by the Washington State Senate on a 43-2 vote.
“When an offender violates the term of his or her conditional release today, sometimes they go weeks without suffering the consequences for their actions,” said Sen. Jim Hargrove , D-Hoquiam, the bill’s original sponsor. “This bill maintains community supervision and sets up swift and sure action by the Department of Corrections when the terms of that supervision are not met.”
Under Senate Bill 6204 , the Department of Corrections (DOC) will adopt rules creating a structured violation process that includes presumptive sanctions, takes into account aggravating and mitigating factors, and defines low-level violations, high-level violations and the resulting penalties.
Those penalties include:
Low-level violation – DOC may sanction an offender to one or more non-confinement sanctions.
Second and subsequent low level violations – DOC may sanction the offender to no more than three days in jail.
High-level violations – DOC may sanction an offender to no more than 30 days in jail. An offender accused of committing a high-level violation would be entitled to a hearing.
Hargrove says research has found that the threat of imprisonment or a severe penalty does little to provide a deterrent, but that increasing the certainty of being caught and punished did provide a significant deterrent. In addition, when combined with treatment geared to the specific risk and needs of the offender, the risk of reoffending fell by 16 percent.
“These are evidences-based practices,” said Hargrove. “Research shows that these methods will lower recidivism and save money by ensuring that treatment is part of our supervision and altering the behavior of our offenders as they are released.”
The bill will also establish stakeholder groups, communicate with law enforcement, and seek input from community custody officers for suggestions on improvement. The DOC will report back to the Legislature at the end of 2012 and 2013.