Court Reform

Stop charging credit card interest rates on court ordered restitution

When I first moved to Washington, I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Kastama who was the Warden at Walla Walla in the 1960’s. He shared with me the philosophy what once a person has done their time and was no longer a threat to society that they should be given every opportunity to become a part of that society. Our current system requires payment by released prisoners to compensate for their crimes. However, we also charge them credit card interest rates which make it almost impossible to pay and make it far too easy to lure people back to a life of crime. The county should work with our state legislators to allow for a fair interest rate which meets the standard interest rates we see on loans and mortgages. The released offender would still be required to pay for their crime, but not be placed into the ever-ready temptation to return to that life due to an inability to pay.

Reduce trial delays by adding two new judicial departments

Pierce County has been allocated two additional superior court positions. These positions are funded through a 50-50 match process with the state. The County has been reluctant to add these two new courtrooms due to a perceived lack of available courtroom space. We need to forge ahead and prioritize funding these positions. If people are waiting in jail for a court date, justice delayed is justice denied.

Statute of Limitations for traffic tickets and minor civil fines

Often, people move around a lot when they are just starting out or experience economic dislocation. When you have finally settled, old traffic tickets can result in heavy interest rates, fine, or even warrants. The County shall reduce interest rates from fines to 3.5% over prime or the cost of living. Persons who have not paid their fines but have not been cited since the last infraction will have their interest rate reduced to 0 after 3 years and interest is applied towards principal. For those who have been clean 7 years, the fines are expunged along with the record.

Promote behavioral health recovery with tested diversion programs

Snohomish County has created a diversion program which allows for persons with addiction or behavioral health problems to be released to a private entity to provide treatment in a non-jail setting. This program further reduces the jail population and increases the chance of a successful recovery. I have been working with this program as part of my job with the Department of Health and the success rate is exceptional. We need to benefit from these programs.