Governor Christine Gregoire signed the Offender Re-Entry Bill Tuesday noon in the Lakewood City Council chambers. The event was attended by numerous state legislators, city officials from throughout Pierce County and law enforcement officials from the entire area.
The Bill, which was co-sponsored by Senators Mike Carrell of Lakewood and Regala, ensures “equitable distribution” in the siting of Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities. It requires DOC to site new work release facilities in populous counties that currently lack facilities and to notify cities and counties in advance of a need to site work release facilities. Criminal justice officials predict a long-term reduction in the Pierce County crime rate as a result of this legislation.
It took the combined effort of many area legislators, but the end result was the passage of Senate Bill 6157 that ¬? hopefully – will put a stop to the revolving door at the state’s prisons and¬? hopefully¬? result in Pierce County getting some relief from being the dumping ground for released felons.
In remarks before signing the bill Gov. Gregoire acknowledged what Pierce County officials have long claimed: the county has been the dumping ground for released felons. “That is unfair to them” the Governor remarked.
Drug treatment and more education for inmates is a primary goal of the bill. The idea, according to Sen. Carrell is to give inmates more help while in prison. Upon their release the legislation calls upon the communities and prison officials to help the ex-inmates find employment and a place to live.
“We can’t solve the problem with more prisons,” Gregoire said. “You can’t just lock ’em up. You have to do something to change them. She pointed out that reducing the rate of felons returning to prison will save taxpayers money, such as a $250 million new prison to house another 2,000 individuals.