Senate Passes Cortes Bill Championing Juvenile Justice Reform 

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate passed a bill today aiming to reform the juvenile justice system, prioritizing rehabilitation over punishment. Introduced by Rep. Julio Cortes (D-Everett), House Bill 2217 addresses the issue of court backlogs, exacerbated by the pandemic, which can lead to automatic transfers of juvenile cases to adult court solely based on reaching the age of 18.  

The bill proposes extending the timeframe for filing charges to keep young people in the juvenile system, allowing for age-appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Recognizing the complexities of serious offenses, it also expands parole options and individualizes interventions based on each case’s specific needs.  

By emphasizing fairness and equity, the bill strives to ensure equal access to rehabilitation and future opportunities for all young people, regardless of background. Rep. Cortes stated the bill reflects his belief “in the potential of every individual and our state’s commitment to a justice system prioritizing rehabilitation and investing in the future of youth.” 

The bill now heads to governor to be signed into law.