HB 2834 is dead. It almost made it through the legislative process but died when the Senate bogged down on the health care issue.
Originally the bill read that the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) would be eliminated as of July 1992. This was part of the "Get tough on Crime Bill" by Rep. Hargrove. Kit Bail attached a $10 million fiscal note to the bill and it appeared the bill would die in the House Appropriations Committee. That is when the 'bite' of the bill was lost.
The part of the bill eliminating the ISRB in 1992 had to be stripped out in order to get the bill out of Appropriations. An amendment was then written which was watered down. It would not change the 1998 date but would require the ISRB to write a detailed plan to 'go out of business' by 1998. It would have also eliminated the 'lack of rehabilitation' but would have added 'serious risk to community.' Some offenders would have gotten off parole earlier. It would have, at least, stopped some of the recycling of inmates back into the system for technical violations or for misdemeanors. The ISRB would have still been the 'ruling class,' but it gave us a start and as fast as this bill was thrown together, that gave us hope.
The bill passed the House of Representatives. There was some concern about the content of the 'get tough on crime' portions Hargrove had added. We did not like those parts, but if Hargrove had done it any other way, it would have been political suicide. He is the only one who dared stick his neck out. It also seemed the DOC had limitations of its own to contend with. To take 50% of an inmates wages would produce behavior management problems, and there isn't the space to promote additional industry. The other part about adding 15 years on to sentences if an assault happened in prison, would have been a costly venture. The costs of trips to court would have been enormous in itself.
When the bill got to the Senate Law and Justice Committee, they stripped out the tow 'get tough on crime' portions and left the part in about the ISRB. This was extraordinary to say the least, since the Chair of the Committee, Sen. Gary Nelson, had said he wasn't even going to bring it up for a vote. It seemed as if a miracle had occurred.
As it turned out, Nelson and his committee were actually aiding Kit Bail. It seems that when they changed the law to keep the ISRB in business until 1998 they forgot to change the law that says the chair of the ISRB is an ex officio member of the Sentencing Guidelines Commission. That law still reads July 1, 1992. They didn't notice it until it was too late to get legislation in so they needed a bill to attach an amendment to which had an appropriate title. HB 2834 fit that description. What first appeared to be a sudden surge of conscious by the Senate Law and Justice Committee turned out to be just another push for Bail.
It is too early to say where we go from here. There are going to be some changes in the way we are doing things. Hopefully there will be a more centrally located P.O. Box, near the Monroe Command, set up as a contact. This whole thing is growing not dying and the P/CA is not equipped to handle this without a lot of involvement from other people.
This is an election year and many of our legislators will be new in next session. Next year the session will also be 90 days in length instead of the 60-day session this year. Also, the legislature will not have the budget issue before them.
We did not know we were going to submit a bill to the legislature this year until just before the session started. For next years session we have time to prepare. Everyone on the outside, across the state, needs to register to vote so we can have an impact on the next election. We will continue to update you as things occur. We may try to put together a legislative bulletin if we can find a way to finance it. We need to keep moving forward. We need you to get involved.
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