Alternative To Prison Will Be Allowed In Washington For Some People With Mental Illness
The state of Washington will soon offer an alternative to prison for people with a serious mental illness who commit a crime. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law Monday.
Under the new Mental Health Sentencing Alternative, judges will have the option to sentence a person to community supervision and treatment in lieu of prison.
The program will be open to individuals who are convicted of a felony crime that is not a serious violent offense or a sex offense. In order to qualify, the person would have to be willing to participate in the sentencing alternative, and the court would have to determine the individual would benefit from community-based supervision and treatment. The opinion of the person’s victim would also be considered.
The Department of Corrections would also have to conduct a pre-sentence investigation. That investigation would include, among other things, the name and address of the person’s treatment providers, a proposed monitoring plan and any conditions of release back into the community.
If the person were to violate the conditions of the sentencing alternative, they could be sent to prison to serve their sentence.
The bill was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. T’wina Nobles who was first elected last year.
“Instead of criminalizing community members with serious mental illnesses, we need to treat them,” Nobles said in a statement after the bill passed the state Senate in March. “This bill promotes and improves public safety and supports the long-term health of individuals convicted of crimes where mental health, cognitive issues, or brain injuries are a factor.”
The Washington Senate passed the bill unanimously. It later cleared the House with just nine Republicans opposing it.
Creating a Mental Health Sentencing Alternative was a top priority of the state’s sentencing task force in 2019. Washington already offers sentencing alternatives for certain drug offenders and certain sex offenders.
The bill will take effect July 25.
Kimberly Starr’s son, Tom, died by suicide when he was in high school. Kimberly now does prevention outreach to help others. Listen (Runtime 2:26) Read It is common for people… Continue Reading Mental Health First Aid Should Be As Common As CPR
Nearly a year-and-a-half after a series of vicious patient-on-staff attacks, including one that cost a nurse part of her ear, Western State Hospital is poised to open a new unit to treat its 10 most violence-prone patients. Continue Reading After Attacks, Western State Hospital Will Open New Ward For Most Violent Psychiatric Patients
Washington’s Department of Corrections has agreed to improve conditions for inmates with mental illness at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Under a court-approved settlement reached last week, the agency will open a new minimum- and medium-security unit for these inmates, with the goal of reducing the amount of time they spend locked up in their cells. Continue Reading Washington Settles Lawsuit Over 15-Hour-Per-Day Lockdown For Inmates With Mental Illness