Legislators Preparing Bills

Richard Roesler from the (Spokane) Spokesman-Review reported earlier this month on several bills in the hopper in Olympia before the 2008 session starts.

Included is this one from state Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island:

• HB 2436 . . . proposes allowing crime victims to weigh in when state prison officials are deciding whether a person can go into a work-release program.

I’ve got a call into Rolfes to get more information. The session begins Jan. 14.

10 thoughts on “Legislators Preparing Bills

  1. I don’t feel that crime victims should weigh in on such an issue. Yes, they are victims and I respect that, however, I don’t feel they can or are able to separate their feelings from that of the prisoner who is eligible for work release. Case in point;a person who was sent to prison for a DUI, who turned themselves around, is following all the rules and guidelines set forth. Then the victim’s and their family is asked for their thoughts on them going into a work release program. Their immediate response is going to be “No way! I don’t want that scum in work release”. Personally I feel their feelings are too jaded to make that type of decision. They are too close to the issue, whereas, someone in DOC is able to make a decision based upon what they have personally recorded during their incarceration. I am sure many out there don’t feel that way, but I have witnessed some things recently where I don’t feel victims are able to make an informed decision because their feelings will far outweigh their decision making skills.

  2. “Case in point;a person who was sent to prison for a DUI, who turned themselves around, is following all the rules and guidelines set forth.”


    Maybe people should obey the law to begin with. It’s not hard, millions of people do it everyday.

    Anyway, how about a citizen panel that is not involved with a particular case and allow them a say. It could be spread around, kind of like jury duty.

    Bottom line, it’s all about protecting citizens. The criminal is secondary.

  3. Jim, I find your idea of a citizen panel to be a great idea. I am all for protecting citizens, however, I don’t feel the victims involved in the case should weigh in on criminals going into the work release program as they would not be “impartial”. Their views are clouded by the situation and in the long run it would not benefit the criminal who “might” be attempting to turn their life around into a law abiding and productive life.

    Work Release is a place where criminals are slowly brought into society so they can better adjust to our society. When criminals are in prison for whatever period of time they were sentenced, it can be very difficult for them to fit back into our society without some guidance. This is what Work Release does for them. They go out into our world for a period of time during the day to work, but they must go back to Work Release at the end of their work time. They are also allowed to visit with their families/friends to get reacquainted, for a short period of time. This is only allowed after they meet certain criteria. If you allow the victims to have input into this situation, the prospect of prisoners going into this program is nil because of their feelings and emotions. So in short, why have this type of program, that is very beneficial for the prisoners?

    So, I like your idea, as it allows a panel of objective people to review the prisoners history in prison, to have them read an outline of goals that a prisoner has set for her/himself and for this panel to question the prisoner on whatever they feel is pertinent.

    Again, I am very much for protecting us citizens. I have a family member that was in prison and went through Work Release. That person has changed for the better, thank God. However, we did encounter much with the victims and they will unfortuantely never see or believe how much this person changed. So I firmly believe that if they were allowed to have input into this person going into Work Release, this person would have not had the opportunity to continue growing and maturing in a postive, productive way.

  4. I would like to read the entire bill. I understand the victims’ desires to have input into whether the criminals are allowed to be among us.
    In a DUI case, as mentioned above, sometimes there is no victim. When there is, it is understandable that the victim would like to have that person locked up for a long, long time.

  5. I believe the victim/s have the right to weigh in. Why not?

    The criminal looking towards work release cannot be injured by seeing and hearing what their victim/s have to say. If they haven’t changed, they won’t care.
    If they have changed, facing the victim’s should reinforce their vows of changed thinking and behavior.

    Contrary to a few above comments…victims are usually realistic and WANT to believe the prisoner has been rehabilitated before being turned loose to hurt another person.

    They deserve – at the least – the right to face and question the person who caused them harm.

    Why is it more important to so many people to give the criminal more rights than his/her victims?

    The crimes against the victims- in most cases – have had their entire world turned upside down, their world and that of their family are lives changed FOREVER…not just a prison term.

    Most will overcome the adversity and move forward…though NEVER the same as before the crime against them. They move forward differently…, not better or worse…differently.

    Let the ‘victims’ heal too. Let them be a part of the process.
    Thanks to the prisoner, they have that right.

    In my opinion… Sharon O’Hara

  6. When victims have orders of protections against the criminals, they are unable to face them. The victims are the ones that want those orders of protections. Many times the “criminals” want the chance to face their victims, but are unable to due to the victims getting these orders of protections. This is very unfortunate, as I believe that both parties need the opportunities of expressing their grief, sorrow, apologies, remorse, etc. This is how we are able to move forward in life for both parties. I agree in much of what you share Sharon, however, I still stand by what I wrote for many reasons. Every situation is different and is not the same or clear cut, therefore I stand by what I wrote and very much agree with other postings.

  7. In re-reading your post Sharon, I have one more thing to state. Who said that criminals have more rights than victims???? They don’t and they never will! They have no say as to if they can go into a work release program. In the case of my family member, they had to work hard to get to where they were because of the victims staying on top of this criminal. That is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. However, when the victims spouted lies, that is when I put my foot down and say enough.

  8. To all,

    Thanks for the links…and the chuckles (e.g. last legislative session some number of bills inputted and approximately 500 laws outputted).

    So far, the input this session which got me to chuckling is the one which requires businesspeople, selling lawnmowers et cetera, to display signs in their stores which show benefits of electric powered tools compared to gasoline powered.

    I’m chuckling because I recall thirty years ago when Scoop Jackson spoke of America’s energy binge. And I’m chuckling because I’m wondering if it’s all about a long time coming or a long time learning.


  9. According to the Victims Bill of Rights, victims have the right to give a statement before a parole board or when there is a change in sentence. Work Release is not considered to be a change in sentence according to the DOC. It is part of incarceration. That is why crime victims do not have any right to be heard or considered when offenders go to work release. This bill gives victims the oppertunity, if they choose, to let DOC not only know how the crime has impacted their life but they will also be able to let them know that they live and work in a particular area. How would you like it if you went to your neighborhood store and looked up to see the person who killed your child is bagging your groceries while he is doing his prison sentence in work release? Consider how that might affect you and your healing.

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