OLYMPIA — State Representative Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, is making communities safer by closing gaps in the criminal justice and mental health systems that could result in the release of violent individuals. Kilduff is introducing new legislation to help prosecutors and law enforcement prevent violence and expand the role of the public safety review panel.
Currently, state law requires state hospital officials to notify prosecutors if the hospital decides to release a person charged with a violent felony when their involuntary commitment period is ending. Kilduff’s bill (House Bill 2289) requires hospitals to also notify local law enforcement in that situation and gives prosecutors the ability to ask a judge to stop the release. If, however, a prosecutor chooses to forego legal action to prevent the release of the violent individual into the community, they must also notify local law enforcement.
“This bill provides prosecutors and police common-sense tools to keep the public safe from potentially dangerous individuals with a history of violence. It will require greater communication and coordination between the state hospitals, law enforcement, and prosecutors—key players in the criminal justice and mental health systems—and help keep communities safe. And if a court or panel of citizens decides the person is a threat to the community then they will be able to receive ongoing mental health treatment,” said Kilduff.
In addition, Kilduff’s legislation would expand the limited jurisdiction of the public safety review panel, allowing the board to review commitment status changes for persons who present a substantial likelihood of repeat offenses that could jeopardize public safety.