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WA Community Corrections Officers Fear Bill Stretches Department Too Thin

Community supervision terms for people released from prison currently run consecutively rather than all at once. (Ulia Koltyrina/Adobe Stock)
Community supervision terms for people released from prison currently run consecutively rather than all at once. (Ulia Koltyrina/Adobe Stock)
March 2, 2020

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Legislation in Olympia would reduce community supervision terms for people with multiple felonies.

But corrections officers are concerned it could spread out an already thin workforce.

Under the bill, supervision terms -- which are carried out after a person is released from prison -- could run at the same time for multiple felonies, rather than consecutively.

State lawmakers see it as a way to save money.

But community corrections officer (CCO) and Washington Federation of State Employees member Jim Furchert says it means less time with people who have a history of crime.

"Those are not folks that we need to be short changing by not providing that level of supervision," he states. "That supervision creates community safety. Having one less CCO makes that community where that CCO is working significantly less safe."

The measure has passed the House and is in the Senate. Supporters of the bills say resources will be redirected to services for people who are reentering society out of prison.

Don Malo is also a CCO and executive board member to the Washington Federation of State Employees. He maintains the bills could put certain people at risk, such as victims of domestic violence. He says it takes time with individuals on an officer's caseload to assist them in the way they need.

"It's not a cookie cutter approach," he stresses. "There's a lot to it, and some people take more time than others, and any loss of any community corrections officers will impact us in a negative way."

Budgets in the House and Senate recommend cutting five and 38 full time employees, respectively, within the state Department of Corrections if this legislation passes.

Disclosure: Washington Federation of State Employees - AFSCME Council 28 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA