SEATTLE – Over 30 labor, tribal, medical groups, and criminal justice organizations joined the ACLU-WA and FAMM in support of a bill that retroactively and prospectively repeals the use of prior juvenile convictions to automatically enhance future sentences in adult courts. The organizations include the Washington State Labor Council, SEIU 775, SEIU 1199NW, the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Chief Seattle Club, and Huy. The range of these organizations underscores the broad appeal and urgency of passing this legislation.
These organizations signed on to a letter that was sent Monday to Majority Leader Andy Billig, urging him to pass House Bill 1324 this legislative session. Additionally, Rep. Debra Lekanoff, the only Native American woman in the House, recently submitted a letter on behalf of several tribes asking Speaker Laurie Jinkins to support the bill given that Native people are the most disproportionately impacted by the practice of using juvenile adjudications.
HB 1324 is commonsense legislation that updates Washington’s sentencing system and stops the practice of automatically punishing people twice for crimes they committed as children. This change would bring Washington in line with most other states regarding the use of prior juvenile offenses. The bill aligns the judicial system with established science around brain development and adolescent behavior, reflects best practices in sentencing, and begins to rectify the vast racial disparities in Washington’s prison system.
HB 1324 would also allow people serving sentences based on prior juvenile adjudications to be resentenced. If Washington decides that a law is unjust going forward, it must apply to those already impacted.
“Washington law should focus on being smart on crime — not tough on crime. This important piece of legislation helps bring us into a new era where our criminal justice policy is led by evidence,” said Rep. David Hackney, one of the sponsors for the bill.
"Twenty-five years ago, Washington started automatically issuing longer sentences to those with childhood offenses based on the racially-charged and now debunked myth of the child super predator — the idea that children, especially those of color, are inherently violent. Today, we have an opportunity to fix this,” said Dr. Chelsea Moore, smart justice policy manager for ACLU-WA.
Below is a full list of the organizations who signed onto the letter:
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians
ACLU of Washington
Washington Minority and Justice Commission
Chief Seattle Club
Huy Galanda Broadman, PLLC
Atlantic Street Center
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
Tacoma Urban League
League of Women Voters
Disability Rights Washington
Washington Defender Association
King County Department of Public Defense
Washington Innocence Project
Look 2 Justice
Washington Freedom Project
Northwest Community Bail Fund
Seattle Clemency Project
Information For A Change
Kitsap Black Student Union
Liberation Media Northwest
Vashon Maury Showing Up for Racial Justice Criminal Justice Action Team
Adam Cornell, Former Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney
Judge Theresa Doyle (Ret.)
Norm Stamper, Former Seattle Police Chief (Ret.)