January 26, 2011

Community Corrections members testify in support of bill giving them greater discretion to search offenders

Federation Community Corrections members John Conaty and Ginger Richardson, both of Local 308 in King County, on Tuesday boosted legislation giving them greater discretion in searching offenders and improving other resources and tools available to them.

House Bill 1209 would allow Community Corrections officers to perform random searches of an offender, and the offender’s homes, car or other personal property if they have reasonable cause the offender violated a condition of his or her sentence.

The bill came before the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. It’s sponsored by Rep. Kirk Pearson of the 39th District.

“We are in support of this bill because it broadens our discretion…,” Conaty said. “In order to be effective, we must have the latitude to develop and implement the best responses to that (offender’s) behavior.

“The job is very dynamic that we have. We must be able to react to the offender’s behavior and be proactive as we prevent new crimes and (protect) victims.”

The Department of Corrections and other speakers voiced concerns about the constitutionality of the bill.

The union also went on record to support an amendment to another bill, HB 1020,that would reinstate and continue the 50 percent earned release time statute for certain offenders. The union’s Community Corrections members support an amendment that if the bill passes, those on early release would also have some community supervision. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson of the 36th District, said she’s not opposed to such a change.

Watch a clip of their testimony at WFSE.org > WFSE Testimony on TVW > HB 1209

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