Simmons’ bill providing judicial discretion for sentence modification passes House

OLYMPIA – A bill to provide judicial discretion to modify sentences in the interests of justice passed the Washington House of Representatives with a vote of 51-46. Sponsored by Rep. Tarra Simmons (D-Bremerton), House Bill 2001 focuses on granting judicial authority to adjust sentences in the pursuit of justice.

Currently, only prosecutors can bring forward these motions for rehabilitated prisoners to make their case for an earlier release, even if they were given a sentence under laws that are no longer on the books. House Bill 2001 would change that by allowing defense counsel to also get the case before a judge to determine whether the sentence still serves the interests of justice under certain circumstances.

“I got to know a man who has been in a prison near Olympia for more than a decade,” Simmons said. “His story fascinated me because he’s spent the past several years changing his life for the better and wants to help other incarcerated people do the same. He even began initial work on drafting this bill in its early stages, with a call-to-action for judges to review long or life prison sentences for those who’ve worked hard to rehabilitate themselves and to shorten their sentences.”

House Bill 2001 mandates the creation of a flexible fund at the Office of Crime Victim Advocacy to provide support for survivors during the resentencing process. Additionally, the bill will provide funding for victim services.

HB 2001 is now under consideration in the Senate. This year’s legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on March 7.