Padden: Bail reform needed now more than ever, following latest assault on state trooper

In June, the NW Community Bail Fund bailed out a violent offender who allegedly went on to shoot a Washington State Patrol trooper nine times. Sen. Mike Padden, the lead Republican on the Senate Law and Justice Committee, said that a bill he sponsored during the last legislative session would have made the assault on Washington State Patrol Trooper Raymond Seaburg less likely, and gone a long way toward keeping dangerous repeat offenders off the street.

“The public often seems surprised and perplexed when repeat offenders are released on bail. They wonder where the criminal gets the funds and how a judge could reasonably grant bail,” explained Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “Social justice bail funds often bail criminals out without conducting a viable risk assessment, which is critical to protecting the public from potential offenders with a track record of violence.”

Jason Posada, the alleged suspect in the shooting of Trooper Seaburg, had eight previous felony convictions before being bailed out on a $10,000 bond by the NW Community Bail Fund. Padden’s measure, Senate Bill 5116, would have created more oversight of so-called charitable bail funds.

“Unfortunately, the Democrat majority failed to take action on my bill,” said Padden, who pointed out that a number of Democrat bills that did receive hearings this session focused on expanding rights and privileges for those who commit crimes, at the expense of victims and public safety. “As more and more violent offenders are bailed out and then reoffend, it is becoming clearer than ever that something must be done to address bail reform. This most recent case is a tragic and sad reminder that bail reform is vital to creating a safer Washington.”

Padden says the Washingtonians are plagued by an increase in violent crime – from murders and aggravated assaults to domestic violence. According to an analysis of crime data by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the number of violent incidents toward officers and deputies has risen 20% since last year, at 2,375 assaults. At the same time, the Department of Corrections’ inmate population has declined from 17,000 before COVID to approximately 12,000 current inmates.

“There are now more criminals on the street than ever in recent history, and irresponsible bail funds are exacerbating the problem and decreasing public safety in the name of social justice,” Padden said. “This is only adding to the current crisis with public defense and prosecutor staffing shortages. Bad policy and a lack of resources are resulting in improper bail determinations, with judges not having the risk assessment tools they need to determine the right dollar amount for cash bail. When you add to that unchecked social activists providing bail funds for potentially dangerous offenders without any concern for public safety, it’s a recipe for disaster.”