OUR MISSION: Prison Voice Washington exists to help redesign and update Washington’s broken prison system by introducing common sense, humanity, and the latest scientific research into policy discussions. Our goal is to improve both the safety of our communities and the lives of prisoners by expanding opportunities for rehabilitation. We also seek to update our laws and policies to reflect what works, based on the last 30 years of social science research.
Our debut report on the Washington State prison food system in 2016 has brought about some preliminary changes in prison commissary and mainline meal nutrition. We are currently working on a report for the 2019 legislative session that will cover issues families experience during incarceration in Washington State. We are also researching and monitoring the Washington Sentencing Guidelines Commission and Clemency & Pardons Board. We now have a list of proposed Washington State criminal justice topics and research questions for scholars, journalists, and community members interested in doing their own investigative work.
Our legislative agenda for 2017 and 2018 included:
- creating a Corrections Ombudman’s Office to provide independent oversight of the Department of Corrections
- expanding educational opportunity within prisons, including vocational training and higher education
- revisiting sentencing guidelines
- reducing the impact of legal financial obligations
- recreating a system of sentence review/parole
- bringing Washington prisons into compliance with the governor’s executive order requiring access to healthy food in all state agencies and organizations
WE ARE people who have experienced the prison system firsthand, either as as directors of prison programs, prison teachers, and volunteers, or as former prisoners and their families. As a result of what we have seen, we are compelled to give voice to our belief that Washington’s criminal justice system and Department of Corrections are failing our communities. Prison Voice Washington works to provide answers to the many problems and sticking points in this outdated system. If you are a friend or family member of a person incarcerated in Washington State and you would like to connect with Prison Voice Washington members who are also on the Statewide and Local Family Councils, connect with them here or contact loretta @ prisonvoicewa.org.
WE BELIEVE that people can and do change. We believe that incarcerated people deserve the opportunity to work and learn meaningful skills. We believe that education and hope for a better life are fundamental drivers of successful outcomes for prisoners and the communities they will be released into one day.