New Gun Bill Fills Prisons and Does Not Make Us Safer

Thanks to everyone who joined us at our January 10th art-making and potluck meeting and at our street info-sharing outside of Michelle Alexander’s King County Bar Association MLK Luncheon on January 18th!  Please join us any time for one of our meetings, Thursdays at 7pm at Washington Hall.

Please help spread the word about the fight to stop HB 1096, a bill that would make imprisonment mandatory for any juvenile found guilty of possessing a gun.  Here is some info from a useful background document put out by the ACLU, which opposes HB 1096.

Study after study shows exactly what works to reduce gang violence—spend money funding community-based programs that help keep young people out of gangs in the first place, rather than on incarceration. . . This bill’s jail-based approach would lock up youth in a juvenile facility for weeks, months, or even years, cutting them off from critical resources—such as family members, jobs, sports, and school—needed to stay out of gang life. . . . Juvenile gun crime is down in King County. Juvenile filings have dropped almost 50% since 2000, while violent crime (assault and robbery) has dropped significantly between 2010 and 2011. . . Second degree violent use of a firearm has dropped by a third between 2010 and 2011. . . . The fiscal note details huge costs for this bill—possibly over $5 million, in a time when every budget dollar is stretched thin. By contrast, last year, the legislature provided only $250,000 for prevention and intervention services. If we are serious about reducing youth violence, we have our priorities exactly backward. Let’s reject HB 1096’s failed approach, and fund successful prevention programs instead.

Mandatory minimum sentencing has been one of the engines of rapid prison growth and mass incarceration over the last several decades.  We have to stand up to it in WA!  We don’t need new laws that mandate imprisonment for youth, ruining lives, and we don’t need a new jail for youth in King County. Its time to focus on alternatives, on supporting arts, education, health care, child care and all the things our communities need, and stop planning ways to jail our youth!

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