Rep. Cortes Bill Provides Justice and Rehabilitation for Juvenile Offenders

OLYMPIA – Tonight, the House passed House Bill 2217, introduced by Rep. Julio Cortes (D-Everett). The legislation represents a meaningful effort at transforming the state’s approach to juvenile justice and prioritizing rehabilitation over punishment.

Nationwide court backlogs resulting from the pandemic have increased delays in juvenile justice proceedings. This raises concerns about automatic transfer to adult court based solely on reaching the age of 18 during these delays. Court delays should not disadvantage young offenders through automatic transitions to a harsher system.

HB 2217 recognizes the limitations of the current system and extends the time frame for filing charges against individuals under the age of 18 who commit criminal offenses. This aims to prevent the premature transfer of such cases to adult court, safeguarding the rehabilitative focus of the juvenile justice system and ensures young people receive age-appropriate treatment.

The bill also acknowledges the unique challenges presented by serious offenses committed by juveniles. It expands parole options for such cases, allowing for individualized interventions and support programs tailored to the specific needs of each young offender. This evidence-based approach prioritizes rehabilitation and maximizes the potential for successful reintegration into society.

HB 2217 acknowledges that the current system disproportionately impacts certain communities and individuals. By emphasizing fairness and equity in juvenile justice proceedings, the bill takes a critical step towards creating a more just and compassionate society. It ensures all young people, regardless of background or circumstance, have equal access to opportunities for rehabilitation and a brighter future.

“This bill is a testament to our belief in the inherent dignity and potential of every individual, regardless of their past mistakes,” stated Rep. Cortes. “HB 2217 embodies our commitment to a justice system that prioritizes rehabilitation, fosters personal growth, and invests in the future of our youth. By providing fair and effective interventions, we can break the cycle of recidivism and build a stronger, more just society for all.”

House Bill 2217 advances to the Senate for further consideration. Learn more by clicking on the video below.