WASHINGTON STATE

HOUSE DEMOCRATS

Rep. Pettigrew bill creates an ombuds for the Department of Corrections

Legislative news from Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle

March 7, 2018

Rep. Pettigrew bill creates an ombuds for the Department of Corrections

OLYMPIA – This week, House Bill 1889, cleared the last legislative hurdle before landing on the governor’s desk. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eric Pettigrew, will create an Office of Corrections Ombuds.

For years, former inmates and family members of inmates have raised concerns about how the current Department of Corrections grievance process does not work. Currently, the formal grievance process requires that inmates bring their issues or concerns about prison operations to people who work for the prison.

“While offenders must be held accountable for their crimes, they should be treated with fairness and respect while incarcerated. An Ombuds will give inmates and their families the opportunity to speak up for themselves in a meaningful way,” said Rep. Eric Pettigrew. “The Ombuds will also provide needed information and opportunity for DOC to find solutions to persistent problems with the conditions of incarceration.”

The independent Office of Corrections Ombuds, created by HB 1889, will work to improve conditions, programs, and treatment of inmates at DOC.  The Office will encourage changes within the system to facilitate the successful reentry of inmates into the community and promote higher standards of accountability and transparency within the DOC.