A fledgling Washington state movement is trying to get the public to bring back parole in the state as a way to reduce the prison population, reports the Seattle Times. Activists, lawyers, judges and at least one prosecutor, King County's Dan Satterberg in Seattle, have been discussing the possibility of put some system in place to deal with what state legislator Roger Goodman calls “unbearably, incomprehensibly long prison sentences.” The conversations have included proposals for the 2016 legislative session or the one after. The state Sentencing Guildelines Commission is to hear two proposals at a Nov. 20 meeting.
It's well understood as a tough sell, despite the likely need for a costly new prison if the number of incarcerated isn't reduced. “I just want to wake you up to the political reality,” said Goodman, chairman of the state House Public Safety Committee, at a June kickoff by the Washington Coalition for Parole. Virginia’s governor has announced a commission to study the possibility of reinstating parole. Washington, where the prison population stands at 18,400, is somewhat unusual. It's among the roughly one-third of states without parole, says Marc Mauer of the reform-oriented Sentencing Project. States that don't have parole usually got rid of it in the 1980s and '90s to conform with a growing call for “truth in sentencing.” Life means life, the saying went, not 15 years before getting out on parole.