OLYMPIA –Though the legislative session is over, many legislators remain on-the-job as participants of various task forces, committees and work groups that meet year-round. State Representative Mary Helen Roberts (D-Edmonds) has been appointed by House Speaker Frank Chopp to serve on two work groups related to criminal justice.
Roberts, known in Olympia for her work on reforming the state’s criminal justice system and youth programs, will serve on the Correctional Industries Advisory Committee which helps the state Department of Corrections develop and select inmate work programs. Roberts says the work programs are an effective way to teach new skills to inmates and encourages them to be productive, but since much of the work can also done by the private-sector, the committee works to ensure the work programs do not unfairly compete with Washington businesses.
Roberts will also join a task force created by a bill she co-sponsored to address the challenges that face young adults with juvenile records. The bill, HB 1793, establishes a Joint Legislative Task Force on Juvenile Record Sealing to determine a cost-effective way of restricting public access to juvenile records. Roberts says young adults with juvenile records often have trouble renting an apartment, getting into college or applying for loans, or finding a job.
“When a child commits a crime and does their time, they deserve a fresh chance at starting over once they become an adult,” says Roberts. “In many instances, their record follows them and we make it unnecessarily difficult for these young adults to responsibly take care of themselves, and they end up back in the criminal justice system. That certainly isn’t in their best interest, nor is it in the interest of the taxpayers.”