The legislature recognizes state and national efforts to reform policies that incarcerate youth in the adult criminal justice system and acknowledges that transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system is not effective in reducing future criminal behavior.
Youth incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system are more likely to recidivate than their counterparts housed in juvenile facilities. The legislature intends to enhance community safety by emphasizing rehabilitation of juveniles convicted even of the most serious violent offenses under the adult criminal justice system.
Juveniles adjudicated as adults should be served and housed within the facilities of the juvenile rehabilitation administration up until age twenty-five but released earlier if their sentence ends prior. Emphasis on rehabilitation up to age twenty-five reflects similar programming in other states, which has significantly reduced recidivism of juveniles confined in adult correctional facilities.
The bill amends previous RCW such that any individual up to age 18 who is convicted of a felony and committed to terms of confinement is initially placed in a facility operated by DCYF and that DOC will determine earned release date. Further, the bill proposes a variety of changes related to the adjudication of juvenile offenders and placement in juvenile (rather than adult) detention up t, but not beyond the age of 25.
WSSIP must assess the impact of this act on community safety, racial disproportionality, and youth rehabilitation and submit a report to the governor and the appropriate committees of the legislature by December 1, 2024.
*Companion bill: SB 1646*