OLYMPIA—In response to recent stories about a scheduled release of a violent individual at Western State Hospital, Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, passed legislation to help prosecutors and law enforcement prevent violent individuals from being released into local communities.
“Our communities have made it clear: our state hospitals, prosecutors, and law enforcement need to have greater communication and coordination. They are the key players in the criminal justice and mental health systems and we absolutely have to have clear lines of communication to ensure our communities are safe,” said Kilduff.
Current 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. HB 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. Finally, this legislation allows the independent public safety review panel to review additional commitment status changes for persons who present a substantial likelihood of repeating offenses that could jeopardize public safety.
HB 2289 passed the House 97-1 and is now under the Senate’s consideration.