Washington State Dems move to let felons vote, serve on jury, run for office while in prison

When asked if the voting rights of the Green River Killer would be restored Simmons replied, “Yes, they would.”

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Washington Democrats are attempting to pass legislation that would allow felons, including serial killers, to vote, serve on a jury and even run for office while incarcerated.

House Bill 2030 is sponsored by Dem. Rep Tarra Simmons, an ex-convict who was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2011 for theft, drug, and firearm crimes.

The former convict was previously successful in restoring voting rights to convicted felons after their release.

During a hearing on the bill, Republican Rep. Sam Low asked Simmons regarding the Green River Killer, “Would Gary Ridgway's rights be restored with this bill?

Simmons replied, “Yes, they would.”

Low added, “Gary Ridgway took the voting rights of 49 to 70 women.”

During the hearing of the State Government and Tribal Committee on Tuesday, Simmons claimed that taking away the right of incarcerated felons to vote was “…very much rooted in racism...and our very shameful past with racism.”

She added, “Mass incarceration is an evolution of slavery."

During the hearing, Brian Hatfield, a spokesperson for Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, said they interpret the bill would allow felons to run for office. Hatfield pointed out the logistical challenges of transporting felons from prison to serve on a jury or in office and added that Hobbs has very strong objections to “restoring the ability to vote until a person has paid their debt to society.”

Rep. Greg Cheney called the legislation “absurd on its face.”

“So, effectively this bill says that anyone currently serving a felony sentence for vehicular homicide, or for vehicular assault, they can all sit on a jury panel on a DUI charge.”  

There are approximately 13,000 people in Washington prisons, but not all of them are citizens.

This legislative session, Simmons has also proposed a bill attempting to make it easier for level 3 sex offenders, rated the “worst of the worst” and most likely to re-offend, to renter society.

The Democrat is also co-sponsoring a bill that would allow misdemeanors to be dismissed, including assault, stalking, assault with sexual motivation, firearms offenses, and more.

Before the session, Simmons pre-filed legislation that would give judges clemency powers so they could unilaterally decide to reduce sentences for violent offenders years later, even if the facts of a case have not changed.

Last year, Simmons was unsuccessful in attempting to reduce penalties for drive-by shootings to promote "racial equity," even as the state has grappled with a spike in crime and record homicides.
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