Reject faulty Corrections bill

AFSCME Council 28 (WFES) VP urges rejection of bill that could cut Community Corrections staff

A bill touted as improving rehabilitation of adult criminals isn’t what it appears to be and may spark unintended consequences.

That’s what AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) Vice President Judy Kuschel told the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

The controversial bill, SB 6511, would remove the authority of the Department of Corrections hearing officers to revoke an individual’s early release time by returning him or her back to prison to serve out their time.

Kuschel, a 20-year employee of DOC and a member of Vancouver Local 313, said the bill is not about good research but “simply to reduce the average daily population in prison by eliminating the hearing officer’s ability to return an offender to prison who is on supervision in the community.”

SB 6511 “is not predicated on research, best practice or even promising practice,” Kuschel added. “It’s predicated on not having enough beds in prisons.

“I would propose to members of this committee that there are other solutions to reduce the population in prison that would support the mission of the department, the deliberate and thoughtful intent of previous legislation pertaining to corrections policy and our collective interest in research as a determinant measure in developing sound correctional practice.

“Ways that don’t jeopardize public safety, fail to hold offenders accountable, undermine the very essence of the basic behavioral management research, or reduce the amount of Community Corrections officers who are Washington state’s first line of defense between felony offenders and our communities.”