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Members of Teamsters Local 117 from the Department of Corrections went before lawmakers in a hearing in the House Ways & Means committee on Wednesday, January 11, to speak out against proposed legislation (HB 2144) that, if enacted, would release offenders 150 days early.
“Offenders would be released into our communities who are not ready to be there. The end result is that they will reoffend,” said Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, Tracey A. Thompson.
Sergeant Michael Boe (MCC), Officer John Christy (WSP), Sidney Clark (Classification Counselor - LCC) and Terry Hutchins (RN - MCC) joined Secretary-Treasurer Thompson in testifying against the bill.
Testimony from members of Local 117 was powerful and at times emotional.
Michael Boe, the Sergeant at MCC who found and attempted to resuscitate Officer Jayme Biendl, summed up the dangers of the early release proposal with his testimony:
“It was a model inmate who murdered Officer Jayme Biendl. Now, at the anniversary of Jayme’s murder, to save the State money, we are considering releasing more model inmates into the public.”
Joining Teamsters in opposing the bill were the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Washington State, the King County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).
Many who testified stated their opposition to a companion bill (HB 2143), which aims at reducing community supervision of offenders, including reducing supervision of sex offenders, from three to two years.
The hearing also provided Local 117 members with the opportunity to remind legislators of the devastating impact the ongoing budget cuts have had on staff safety at the DOC.
“We’ve cut everything we can possibly cut. They’ve taken away many of our positions and we have fewer officers looking out for us,” said Terry Hutchins of MCC.
Tremendous thanks to Michael, Sidney, Terry, and John for taking the time to attend this important hearing and speak out on behalf of other Teamsters at DOC!