Get ready to BRING IT!

“We should absolutely look at our progress in the legislature this year as a win.” That’s the message Concerned Lifers Organization and Monroe BPC want to convey to us. They point out that 5819 has gotten farther than we’ve ever gotten in years of trying, that we’ve had live testimony from prisoners for the first time in history, and that our bill is still alive in Ways & Means for next year. Sen. Christine Rolfes, chair of Ways & Means, told us that she believes we can pass this bill if we are prepared to put in the work.

Now we have just a few months to make our story as compelling as that of our opponents and get it out to the public, to expand the strong core coalition that we’ve built, to work with those organizations who are open to it, and to make legislators feel as much pressure from us as they do from our opponents. 

We were blindsided in Ways and Means because we expected the committee to restrict the testimony to fiscal matters (which it normally does), particularly because this bill had already gone through not one but two policy committees. Policy committees like Law & Justice are the place in the system where the chance to comment on the content of the bill is made available.

So we believe we’re owed a hearing in Ways & Means that does actually focus on the fiscal issues, an argument we know we can win hands down.
The prisoners have also asked me to express their deep gratitude for your work and support. We are organizing to fight this battle hard on a lot of fronts. We will also be asking more of you! 

Carol Estes
Prison Voice Washington
206-276-9128

Today was ugly

There was suddenly a lot of very vocal opposition at the Ways & Means hearing today, even though it is supposed to be only about fiscal issues.(Generally, they will cut you off if you’re not talking about fiscal issues.) 
The Ways & Means Committee had already met for about 5 hrs when they finally got to our bill, and the discussion was very emotional and heated. The prosecutors organization, sheriffs and police chiefs, and victims advocates all oppose it now. The same three victims showed up and went through their same complaints against the ISRB. Jenny Graham, a Representative whose sister was killed by Gary Ridgway, also adamantly and emotionally opposed the bill. John Carlson, author of the original 3 Strikes bill (it was an initiative), promised to run a new 3 Strikes initiative if this bill is passed, adding more crimes to the list of strikes.  That was the general flavor of the testimony–ugly.
Although Rachael Seevers, Paul Benz, and others represented our side effectively, our chances don’t look good right now. It will take a lot of courage and will from legislators to go forward against this kind of opposition. If they don’t think they can get it passed, they won’t move it. We should find out tonight if it goes forward, since it has to be voted out of Ways & Means tomorrow.

Carol Estes
Prison Voice Washington
206-276-9128