Civil Survival organizes system-impacted people, provides legal representation, and advocates for policy reform to restore opportunity to communities harmed by the criminal legal system. In 2023, we are supporting these priority bills.
HB 1024: Concerning Labor and Income of Incarcerated Persons
The Real Labor, Real Wages Act will end forced prison labor in Washington State. The 13th Amendment of the US Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except for “punishment for crime.” This is often referred to as the ‘slavery loophole.’ Incarceration is punishment. Washington should not coerce incarcerated people into working for less than $1 per hour and cap their monthly compensation for labor at $55 per month. HB 1024 sets up personal savings accounts that people cannot access until their release. Nearly every incarcerated person will return to our communities and a savings account will give them a chance to gain housing and re-establish their life in the community. HB 1024 would also drastically increase the amount of restitution that goes to victims and to child support.
HB 1087: Concerning Solitary Confinement
Right now, as many as 700 people in Washington’s prisons and detention centers are in solitary confinement. The international community has called solitary confinement torture and mental health experts have found that it causes lasting physical and mental damage. People are often put in solitary confinement for years and sometimes even decades at a time, creating lifelong problems for them. HB 1087 caps the use of solitary confinement by the Department of Corrections (DOC) and Private Detention Centers at 15 consecutive days and no more than 45 days in a calendar year. This bill also establishes restrictions on its use for vulnerable populations, requires medical evaluations, and establishes standards for living conditions.
HB 1169: Legal Financial Obligations
This legal financial obligations (LFO) reform bill eliminates the Victims Penalty Assessment (VPA) and DNA fee assessed for criminal convictions and replaces these LFOs with dedicated funding. Both the VPA and DNA fee are currently mandatory LFOs and have historically placed people into, or exacerbated debt. LFOs create significant barriers to successful reentry for individuals who lack the ability to pay. HB 1169 will help reduce the disproportionate impacts of LFOs on poor people and communities of color. These communities disproportionately shoulder the financial burden of LFOs, further worsening the wealth gap between white communities and communities of color. People with criminal convictions deserve a fair chance at rebuilding their lives in their community and achieving economic stability.
HB 1174: Improving Access and Removing Barriers to Jail-Based Voting
Every eligible citizen should have an equal opportunity to vote, no matter their race, income, or circumstances. Unfortunately, people incarcerated in our local jails have historically been denied access to voter education and the ballot. As a result, those deeply impacted by our system are not given an opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote. This jail-based voting bill requires state and local officials to establish policies and procedures to improve access and remove barriers to jail-based voting. It would also grant election officials access to jails prior to each election and require data collection and reporting.
HB 1492: Providing Relief for Persons Affected by State v. Blake
The Blake relief bill ensures that the relief promised by the Washington Supreme Court’s opinion in State v. Blake, becomes a reality for people affected by Blake. The Blake decision has wide-ranging impacts on Washingtonians, and this bill hopes to provide Blake-impacted people relief in the form of vacates and refunds of legal financial obligations already paid towards prior cases. People who have been historically affected by Blake should not bear the burden of obtaining relief. Instead the bill asks institutions to work together to gather the data and create the processes necessary to provide people with relief.
View or download our One-Pagers for more information about our legislative priorities for 2023. We also invite you to sign-up for our mailing list to receive all the latest updates from Civil Survival directly in your inbox.