House committee passes bill that targets shaved keys

By | February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

One of thieves’ favorite tools, shaved keys, is getting scrutiny from Washington lawmakers.

The House Public Safety Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 6010 out of committee on Wednesday. The bill would ban the possession of shaved keys, which are altered to fit locks apart from their intended one.

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirklandadded an amendment to the bill that requires police to find intent to commit a crime before convicting someone who makes, mends or possesses up to 10 shaved keys.

Supporters of the original bill, including Rep. Brad Klippert, R- Kennewick, argued the only purpose of the key is for criminal activity, making it worthy of a misdemeanor.

Mark Marsh with the Edmonds Police Department agreed.

“We come into contact almost daily with people who have shaved keys. Never do they have a legitimate reason to have them. The only reason to have shaved keys is to steal a car, pure and simple,” said Marsh.

The majority of committee members disapproved of original bill that would make having a key the sole grounds for an arrest, but support the amended version that makes intent a part of the arrest process.

Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, called the original legislation “a liability bill.” Holy said it has potential to not only make wrongful convictions, but it would also give police too much discretion.

In 2012, more than 3,500 motor vehicle thefts were reported in Seattle and there were about 1,900 motor vehicle thefts in Tacoma, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Controversial DNA testing bill considered in Senate committee

By | January 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

Anyone arrested for a felony in Washington state would be required to submit a DNA sample under a controversial measure considered Friday in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Senate Bill 6314 would require police officers to collect DNA samples of all adults arrested for felonies and certain gross misdemeanors, except for drug offenses. Only qualified lab personnel would have access to the DNA records, and personal identifying information would not be stored in the database.

Prime sponsor, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, is pushing this bill after she had a change of heart.

She said that she was responsible for stopping a similar bill that was introduced in 2005 because she felt that the DNA collection process was a threat to civil liberties. Today, she sees it as a tool to to protect more women and children from crimes, prevent wrongful convictions and eliminate racial bias.

“We have the opportunity to solve more crimes with accuracy,” Darneille said.

A rape victim, Laura Niblack, testified in support of the bill.  She believes that this technology could have stopped her perpetrator before he raped her and his other 22 victims.

Opponents said that DNA has not been shown to improve public safety and voiced concerns that marginalized communities would be unfairly impacted.  Shankar Narayan with ACLU also said that the $600,000 that would be used to execute this bill could be better spent to help solve more crimes.

No action was taken at the hearing.

Off the Set: Sen. Adam Kline on the death penalty, gun control and Three Strikes

By | December 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

I spoke with Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, for an “Off the Set” interview about what issues to expect next year in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.

Sen. Adam Kline on "The Impact"

Kline said his top priority is tougher juvenile gun laws. One proposal would send juveniles to detention for 10 days the first time they’re convicted of gun possession, and a second offense would earn them a 15-week stay.

Kline also wants to make it a gross misdemeanor if an adult allows a child under the age of 14 access to a firearm. The penalty would increase to a felony if any harm came from that gun.

Death penalty

Kline said he believes “this could be the year” that the state abolishes the death penalty, riding the same wave of support that legalized same-sex marriage and marijuana.

“Something is going on here,” Kline said. “It could be the sleeper of the year.”

Capital punishment has been on the books in Washington state since 1981. An effort last session to abolish the death penalty didn’t make it out of committee. Kline said he believes there’s popular support for ending capital punishment, but there’s no organized effort to make it happen.

Three Strikes

Kline said he’s also planning to join forces with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to propose reforms to the state’s “Three Strikes” law.

“California put a dent in Three Strikes,” Kline said, referring to an initiative passed by California voters last month that revised law so that the third offense must be “serious or violent,” rather than crimes like shoplifting.

Kline said his proposal would allow a rehearing for people whose convictions are all Class B felonies, which are often crimes committed without weapons. Class A felonies include offenses like rape and murder, while Class B felonies include assault and robbery in the second degree.

Kline said those offenders would still serve between 15-20 years, and the law would only affect a “small sliver” of people serving life sentences in Washington state.

Kline talks more about tougher gun laws for kids on this week’s edition of “The Impact.” Watch that episode here.

Categories: TVW, WA Senate
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Bill would make it a crime to knowingly steal from deployed military members

By | January 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

Thieves who target the homes of deployed military personnel may soon face tougher penalties under a bill heard in the House on Tuesday.

Puget Sound is home to lots of service members because of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Bill sponsor Rep. Troy Kelley, D-Tacoma, said he was approached for help by several military members who live off-base and have been the victims of burglaries. Kelley said criminals are using Facebook and Twitter to find out when troops are deployed.

Kelley cited a story in The News Tribune that featured Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Turner. While on a four-month deployment to Afghanistan, Turner’s home in Graham was robbed of $10,000 worth of electronics, tools, yard equipment — and Christmas presents for his son.

The bill would give prosecutors the option of charging thieves with aggravating circumstances if they rob a military member knowing that he or she is on deployment. A judge can impose longer jail sentences if aggravating circumstances are a factor in a crime.

Sen. Adam Kline on early release bill: Take out least likely to re-offend, increase programs for others

By | March 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

This week’s Q&A is with Sen. Adam Kline, whose “early release bill” gets a hearing this afternoon at 1:30. I talked to him about the bill — and other cost-cutting measures.

Q: First, tell me what the bill does in  your words?

klineKline: What it does is to reduce the sentence of people primarily who are not dangerous, who are not likely to re-offend — even in nonviolent cases… We’re going to give them as many as three or even four months off. In return, we’re going to fund the kinds of programs that have a track record of reducing re-offense generally or recidivism.

What we’re doing, in effect, is taking out the least likely offenders … and then increasing the kind of services for those who would likely re-offend. We could take the low likelihood offenders out to our hearts content without increasing the likelihood of more crime.

What we really have to do is focus the programs on those who are really in danger of recidivism. To some extent, even the high risk of nonviolent offenses – people who are rated high likelihood and violent, forget it. But the higher likelihood nonviolent offenders — those are the people for whom these programs have the most benefit. If we didn’t approach them, what’s the point?

Q: Last week, Gov. Chris Gregoire said early release is the last place she’d go. Can you respond?

Kline: You know something, we are at the last place. This budget looks awful. This bill does no harm, in fact it does good. It reduces recidivism 36 more times than not doing anything at all. We’re at that desperate spot where we have to try something that may be politically risky, but that actually works — and this is it.

Q: Have you spoken to the Governor about it?

Kline: No, but I will. I’m going to have to talk to her about it.

Q: Do you think part of the danger of this bill is that people hear “early release” and react out of fear?

Kline: Yes, it has that danger. In fact I think that’s maybe why the Governor is a little skittish about it. (more…)

Watch The Impact — on swine flu, corrections and more — right here

By | May 6, 2009 | 0 Comments

Swine flu will likely stick around for a few months, Selecky says

By | May 6, 2009 | 0 Comments

On The Impact tonight, host Jennifer Huntley has an action-packed 30-minute show. For starters, Mary Selecky, head of the Department of Health, shares more information on the swine flu outbreak.

Here’s a preview:
- She said new swine flu cases will likely show up for months in Washington.
- There are currently about 50 suspected cases here and a dozen confirmed cases.
- Some of the new cases don’t have any direct connection to Mexico. That means it’s spreading person-to-person here.
- Wash your hands and visit the Department of Health swine flu web site for the most up-to-date information. Then wash your hands again!
- Selecky said much more in her interview. Watch The Impact at 7 and 10 tonight on TVW, at tvw.org and right here — I’ll post as soon as it’s available.

Huntley also interviewed Eldon Vail, who heads the Department of Corrections. He said the Legislature made budget and policy decisions that will mean about 9,000 fewer criminals will be supervised next biennium.
- Vail said he supports that decision — he said research shows that it doesn’t pay off.
- He also said the department will likely have to lay off more than 400 people because of cuts.

Like I said, that’s only a fraction of what’s on the show. Tune in tonight.

Update in the Senate: Debating a bill to reduce offender supervision

By | April 25, 2009 | 0 Comments

The Senate is debating Senate Bill 5288. It started out as a bill that reduced supervision — the face-to-face visits for a period of time after a convict serves their sentence — for some types of offenders. Sponsors said the offenders in that group didn’t statistically benefit from supervision, so it was one area to cut costs.

The bill passed the Senate, but the House added amendments to cut supervision for more types of offenders. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jim Hargrove, said today that their amendments were good and he wants to pass their version of the bill.

But Sen. Pam Roach and Sen. Don Benton have, so far, objected. They’ve said in floor speeches that it will mean people will be at a greater danger for sexual and violent crimes. Stay tuned. (No budget debate yet.)

The House version of the bill passed.

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