Padden bill on pursuing active warrants for community-custody violators receives committee hearing

According to 4th Legislative District Sen. Mike Padden, one of the problems with Washington’s criminal-justice system is the state Department of Corrections’ failure to prioritize the pursuit of felons who have violated terms of their community supervision, which leaves them free to commit more crimes.

A bill introduced by Padden aims to address this problem.

Senate Bill 5226 would require the Department of Corrections to prioritize staffing to pursue active warrants for community-custody violators. It received a public hearing today in the Senate Human Services Committee.

Padden, the ranking Republican on the Senate Law and Justice Committee, told the Human Services Committee that the bill resulted from a 2016 Senate investigation into the premature release of about 3,000 prisoners from the Department of Corrections. Information related to that investigation can be viewed here.

“This bill tries to refocus the department on its basic mission – number one, public safety – and also to implement that by serving warrants,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

Padden testified that DOC has many people on community custody who are not incarcerated, adding that oftentimes the warrants for the offenders are not pursued by Corrections.

“Those offenders who have warrants out on them are more prone than others to reoffend,” added Padden. “By serving these warrants, we can see some positive changes, including the possibility that these people will not reoffend.”

TVW’s coverage of Padden’s testimony on SB 5226 can be viewed here.

Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Haskell, Spokane County Sheriff John Nowles and Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl testified remotely from Spokane in favor of the proposal. Their testimony can be seen here.

In September 2021, Padden and Republican Sens. Chris Gildon and Keith Wagoner released a follow-up report, “Prison Alarm Bells: Five Years of Failure at the Department of Corrections – and What Washington Can Do About It,” that called attention to the lessons not learned following what Padden considers the worst state-government management debacle in recent memory: the early release of some 3,000 convicts before their sentences expired. The report can be viewed here.