The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs is objecting to proposals to let inmates out of prison early, and to close McNeil Island prison.
In a letter to legislators, the two groups argue instead in favor of reducing some — but not all — supervision of inmates after their release from prison. That will save money and pose less of a threat to public safety, they say.
They don’t want to shut down the McNeil Island prison until there is space in another prison. Prosecutors for years have argued that the state should build more prisons because the one sure way to make sure criminals are not committing more crimes is to keep them locked up.
In recent years, the Legislature has moved more toward early release coupled with varying degrees of post-prison supervision.
“All of the proposed budget cuts to the criminal justice system will have an adverse impact on community safety,” the letter says. “We are writing to urge you to direct the cuts in the least damaging way possible.”
This is largely a response to Sen. Jim Hargrove‘s proposal to cut 30 to 60 days off the sentences of thousands of inmates. That would free up space in other prisons and allow the Department of Corrections to transfer the 1,300 inmates at McNeil Island to other prisons and shut down McNeil. Here’s a link to that story.
Hargrove said the governor “is warming to the idea.”
Here is the letter the two groups sent to House and Senate members last week.