Re: “Is Pierce County still a dumping ground?” (letter, 7-18).
The letter writer, justifiably concerned about Pierce County being a dumping ground for felons from other counties, asks an excellent question: “Has anything changed?”
Yes. Since the passage of Senate Bill 6157 in 2007, we have made significant progress. Before SB 6157, an unfair share of offenders from other counties were being released to Pierce County. As the News Tribune stated in a 2008 editorial, “Between 1992 and 1995, the Department of Corrections released 20 percent of state prisoners to Pierce County, which has only 12 percent of the state’s population.”
SB 6157, supported by former Pierce County Prosecutor Gerry Horne and our legislative delegation, sought to remedy this by requiring the DOC to release offenders to the “county of origin,” that is the county of first felony conviction, unless there is an approved exception.
The law is working. From June 2010 to May 2011, 76 offenders from other counties were released to Pierce County, while 76 offenders from Pierce were released to other counties. We broke even. This is a noteworthy improvement from earlier years when 150 to 200 offenders a year were being dumped onto our streets.
Though we have made progress, we must remain vigilant. Toward that end, the prosecutor’s office has a Fair Share Committee that monitors the release of offenders. For more information on the committee and the fair share issue, you can visit the Pierce County Prosecutor’s website, www.PierceProsecutor.org.
(Lindquist is the Pierce County prosecuting attorney.)