Spokane officials push for bill to reduce property crime and aut - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane officials push for bill to reduce property crime and auto thefts in Spokane

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

On Monday, city and county officials traveled to Olympia to push for Senate Bill 5539. Bill 5539, would establish a pilot program for the supervision of those who are convicted of felonies relating to car theft, after being released from prison. Spokane County has the some of highest recorded numbers of property crimes in the country. Spokane comes nearly dead last as one of Washington States least safest cities "If you were to ask any officer working the streets what is driving property crimes they would tell you that it is drug addiction," said Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl.

Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, and city councilwoman Candace Mumm testified in Olympia this week to bring that pilot program to Spokane. The program aims to supervise individuals charged with felonies relating to car theft, after being released from prison, "In my view, the supervision piece would be helpful because of the fact without it somebody get out with a short stint in prison usually they come back to the same community. They're going to associate largely with the same people that they were and nothing has really changed in their life," said Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell. 

Right now, Washington State is the only state in the country that doesn't have supervised release, but the state used to have supervised release.

In 2003 Washington State eliminated post-release supervision for individuals who were only on supervision for outstanding legal, financial obligations as well as for specific low-level offenders. That reduced the states supervision population from approximately 65,000 to 30,000.  But in 2009, Washington eliminated the post-release supervision for low and moderate risk people sentenced to jail or prison for a drug, violent, or crime against others. Reducing the supervised population to 20,000, "One of the reasons that we felt that it was a good idea to do the pilot and that's what we were over testifying in favor of in front of the house public safety committee on Monday was that you got to start somewhere and you want to gather data. You want to gather information that shows that a  given supervision program is actually working," added Haskell.

This pilot program will make drug treatment, mental health services, and job training to those who are on supervised release. Prosecutor Larry Haskell is on board,  "I'll tell the victims of Spokane county that I am in a never-ending battle to try to address the issues in the county that drive property crime. My goal is to have fewer victims better treatment programs where it indicated necessary so we can reduce the effect not only the personal effect but the economic effect in the county of this type of crime.

On Thursday, the bill passes out of the House Public Safety committee and is now on the way to the House Appropriations Committee, and if amended, the program will become statewide. To view bill click here 

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