We still don’t have the substitute bill, so today’s hearing was on the current version.
Testimony against the bill came primarily from the prosecutors’ and the sheriffs/police chiefs associations–they even dragged out the specter of releasing Gary Ridgeway. But prosecutors did suggest that they might consider this review system if agg murder and murder required 20 or 25 years to be eligible for a hearing. That’s a reasonable point of negotiation. Most of the victim testimony came from a single family and was as much about the incompetence of the ISRB and the hassle of being asked repeatedly for input as it was about the punishment for the person who did it.
Testimony in favor of the bill. We had a strong and detailed presentation by Jeannie Darneille on why we needed the legislation and how it came about, as well as strong testimony from a number of panels, including former prisoners, family members, Katherine Beckett (UW researcher), DRW (about elderly prisoners). We also had crime survivors testifying in favor of the bill. The most memorable and emotional testimony of the day, to me, came from a victim who’d nearly been killed and is now about to become a father. He demanded that the government not use the fact that he had been hurt as an excuse for hurting someone else.
What’s next? Well, we’ll have to let you know. Normally, if we weren’t waiting on the substitute, the bill would be scheduled for executive action in the next day or two (that is, a vote by the committee to move it forward). But perhaps they’ll do something exceptional in this case. One way or the other, the bill must move forward before Feb 22, the deadline for getting it out of the committee, to have a chance of passing this session.
Prison Voice Washington