Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and some state legislators are considering releasing criminals on probation who are considered only moderately likely to re-offend from community supervisiton, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Department of Corrections uses a risk-assessment tool to categorize probationers, who are rated on a point system that assigns them a certain number of points per conviction, giving higher points for more serious crimes. A score of at least 38 means the offender is considered high-risk to reoffend. Violent offenders are assigned a one-time, constant point value of 10 before any other points are added to their score.
Senator James Hargrove, who is pushing the proposal, said the removal of supervision for the two bottom tiers of offenders would have no effect on public safety, according to “lots of research.” Hargrove said that he “wouldn’t have introduced this bill without the current budget situation.” Washington state faces at least a $5.7 billion budget deficit. Lawmakers are reluctant to raise taxes, so they are looking for areas to cut. Hargrove cited an Urban Institute report saying that “Focusing more attention on high-risk individuals and less attention on low-risk individuals can also help parole agencies manage caseloads, allowing parole officers to devote valuable and limited case management time to those who warrant it most.”