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Prison/Community Alliance Update

By Carrie Roth

I received a copy of the June 24, 1991 indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) minutes today and in it is another example of the ISRBs' inability to adequately perform their duties. In the minutes is a short paragraph which states, "Ms. Bail sent a memorandum to Chase Riveland regarding the admission of indeterminate offenders to the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) and the criteria for admission.' She received a follow-up letter from the Director of that program which would lead one to believe the indeterminate offenders are eligible and the Board can refer inmates or encourage them to volunteer. This information is contrary to what we have been told before. Therefore, Ms. Bail has asked for clarification from Dr. Schwartz and Mr. Cedeno."

I need to give you some background. I became aware in late 1988 that pre-July 1, 1987 offenders were being denied admission to SOTP solely because of the date of their offense. The law was written mandating treatment to those offenders who committed after DSHS turned over treatment to the DOC. The first Sentencing Guidelines Commission meeting I attended was in late 1988 or early 1989. I stated to the Commission members that pre-July 1, 1987 offenders were being denied treatment because of the date of their offense. Ms. Bail leaned forward and very emphatically exclaimed "That's not true." I looked at her and said, "Then why do I have a letter from Tana Wood stating it is true?" I dropped the subject partially because I was intimidated enough by the Commission members without being called a liar by the Chair of the Parole Board. After the meeting Toe Lehman, then director of the Department of Corrections, asked me if I had a copy of the letter, which I mailed to him. In subsequent meetings I singled out commission members bringing this subject to their attention. Finally, late in 1989, I was told I could address the Commission on the subject. At the next meeting, with help from Commission Member Jon Ostlund, I was able to make my point that sex offenders should not be denied entrance into the SOTP solely because of the date of their offense. During the 1990 legislature the law was changed to allow pre-July 1, 1987 offenders into the SOTP as space and funding was available.

I do not understand how Ms. Bail, working in the capacity of her job, would be relying on being told the criteria of referring or not referring indeterminate inmates to the SOTP. Back in 1988 and 1989 the ISRB was telling some offenders they could parole if they completed the SOTP. Apparently the ISRB was unaware that these offenders weren't eligible for the program. Now, I-1/2 years after the law was changed to allow indeterminates entrance, she is questioning a letter from the SOTP director because it is contrary to what she had been told. Doesn't she read the laws her ISRB is supposed to follow?

On another subject, Chase Riveland stated that two minimum custody farms will become drug and alcohol treatment centers in 1992. This will be the first alcohol or drug treatment offered to those in prison by the DOC. Up until now the only program offered was the STOP program which is not drug/alcohol treatment but drug/alcohol education. In actuality the STOP program has been a program which met the states minimum requirements for those with drug/alcohol problems.

By the time you read this, the initiative to bring all offenders under the determinate sentencing (SRAs) should be through both the Attorney General's office and the Code Revisors office. The A.G. will re-word it into question form and give it a title. We have to approve or disapprove the re-write and the title. From there it goes to the Code Revisors office to check for statutory or constitutional problems. If we progress as planned, the PLN will print how the actual initiative will read in the next issue.

Lastly, the United Way campaign will be starting soon. If your company offers payroll deductions I am asking you to specify your donation to the Simon of Cyrene Society, Inc. (Matthew House in Monroe). It is an ecumenical, interracial, non-profit organization committed to helping the families and loved ones of those incarcerated in the prisons and jails across the state of Washington and operates two programs.

Matthew 25:36 Mouse of Hospitality. Located just outside the gates of the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, it offers support, caring counseling, emergency food supplies, clothing for women and children, drop-in day care during afternoon prison visits and overnight housing for families traveling over 200 miles.

The Family Bus Service. It carries families and loved ones from the Seattle area to Walla Walla, Shelton, McNeil Island, Clallam Bay and Monroe for inmate visits. It is an excellent organization which is always in need of support and all donations are tax deductible.

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