Writings and observations

First take

There’s some prospect that the days of simply locking up people who have addiction problems – people who ought to be treated, and if they are may present no problem for society – might be moving behind us. Part of the reason could be a change in view on this subject in both political parties, as the signing of a Washington bill from a Republican legislator by a Democratic governor demonstrates. From the legislator’s press release:

On June 11 the state Supreme Court ruled that the costs for pre-trial drug and alcohol monitoring fit under the statutory meaning of “pretrial supervision,” limiting the ability of courts to order these protective measures in cash-strapped counties. By July 6 – just 25 days later – a bill to address the consequences of the decision had been introduced, passed by the House of Representatives and Senate with large bipartisan majorities and signed by the governor.

“The practical effect of the ruling in Washington v. Hardtke is that courts could no longer impose reasonable, pretrial supervision, intended to protect victims and the public at large,” said Sen. Mike Padden, who sponsored the bill and chairs the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “This new law will allow judges in counties without funds to pay for monitoring costs to once again require reasonable supervision that is critical to public safety. I am pleased that we were all able to come together so quickly to solve this problem. It’s unfortunate that the state-budget situation has forced the Legislature to remain in session so long, but that at least put us in position to take action now instead of waiting until 2016.”

Senate Bill 6134 clarifies that a $150 limitation on costs for pretrial supervision does not apply to costs for pretrial electronic alcohol and drug monitoring, which is critical in protecting the public and victims from DUI and domestic-violence defendants. Under the new law, upon conviction, a court may require a defendant to reimburse the county or other agency for the costs of the electronic monitoring or alcohol-abstinence monitoring ordered prior to trial.

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