Washington State House Democrats


Gov. Signs Cortes Bill Providing Juvenile Justice

OLYMPIA – Washington took a meaningful step forward in juvenile justice reform with Governor Inslee signing Substitute House Bill 2217, introduced by Rep. Julio Cortes (D-Everett). This legislation marks a pivotal shift in the state’s approach to juvenile offenders and acknowledges nationwide court backlogs resulting from the pandemic have increased delays in juvenile justice proceedings. As a result, HB 2217 emphasizes rehabilitation and fairness by allowing courts to consider the age of a person rather than the time of the case being filed.

House Bill 2217 expands juvenile court jurisdiction over individuals aged 18 and older, allowing the court to retain jurisdiction over criminal proceedings related to offenses committed before the individual turns 21. This eliminates the previous requirement for charges to be initiated and for jurisdiction to be extended before the juvenile’s eighteenth birthday. Additionally, the court may extend jurisdiction over individuals accused of serious offenses committed at ages 16 or 17, with approval from all parties involved.

Key provisions include extended parole options for certain offenses, ensuring that rehabilitative efforts continue beyond a juvenile’s twenty-third birthday. Furthermore, discretionary decline hearings now consider the age of the offender at the time of the offense rather than at the time of proceedings, promoting fairness and consistency in the justice system.

“This substitute bill represents a significant step towards a more equitable and rehabilitative juvenile justice system,” said Rep. Cortes. “By expanding jurisdiction and emphasizing rehabilitation, we’re working towards a future where every young person has the opportunity to thrive.”

To learn more, click here to listen to Rep. Cortes’ remarks to members of the Senate Human Services Committee on February 15th.