How A Bill Becomes A Law...
Once the Washington Staff Assault Task Force TM had several successful civil judgments under our belt, we started to collect funds from offenders by garnishing their General Bank Accounts. These are the monies that are used by inmates to purchase creature comforts like store, tennis shoes, and televisions.
But, the process of collection was labor-intensive, and very expensive. So, the Task Force came up with the idea of having a law passed through the Legislature that would treat civil judgments for assaults on staff just like LFO's (Legal Financial Obligations.)
With WSATF’s Attorney Brandon Johnson, a bill was drafted that “piggybacked” a current law that was already in effect for the collection of LFOs and child-support.
In October of 2009, we took the idea to Olympia, and presented it to Senator Mike Hewitt from Walla Walla. The bill, originally deemed House Bill 3008, was introduced into the Washington House of Representatives for consideration by State Representative Terry Nealy who commented:
“Inmates are compensated for working within the prison walls, but they don't make very much money. The officers from Walla Walla told me that other states which have used this law have found it very effective as a deterrent against inmate assaults on prison guards. It takes away privileges of what their small amount of money can buy. I think this measure will help us curb assaults against officers.”
Once the iron was struck, the WSATF went to work spreading the word. Volunteers went into the field to hand out flyers in support of the bill, press interviews were conducted, and phone calls were made.
We have been told that it usually takes several years for a bill to become a law. In this case, it did not. Due to the unfortunate timing of Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl’s tragic murder by the hands of an inmate at Monroe Correctional Complex, the immediate need for this law was recognized.
The WSATF went to the Senate Chambers within days of Jayme’s murder with five officers from throughout the state who had been assaulted by inmates, and had their day in court. Each assaulted staff member shared their experiences of having their day in court. One officer still wore a sling from a recent shoulder surgery.
We knew that the law was most likely going to be passed when the Senate committee broke into spontaneous applause. House Bill 1334, a law written and passed to hold it inmates accountable for their actions, was signed into law on May 5th, 2011by the Governor.
Washington (WSATF) California (CSATF) and National Staff Assault Task Force (NSATF) Representatives witness the signing of House Bill 1334 into law by Governor Christine Gregoire. Bob Maroon (CSATF), Attorney Brandon Kelly (Walla Walla), Charles Hughes (NSATF), Robert Davis (CSATF), George Robles (CSATF), and Keith Rapp (WSATF)