Bill to Restore Voting Rights, Reduce Recidivism Introduced

[AUDIO] Bipartisan legislation being considered by state lawmakers could reduce recidivism and expand civil rights of former prisoners at the same time. Dan Frizzell has more.

When Washington prison doors swing open and a formerly incarcerated person walks free, that freedom is often tempered. Some have their right to vote restored right away; others have an uphill path to follow if they haven’t finished paying off their legal financial obligations. The first bill introduced by Representative Tarra Simmons aims to streamline that by automatically returning the right to vote when a person is no longer in the full custody of the Department of Corrections. Here’s Simmons:

SIMMONS: “When people come home we need to reintegrate them back into the community. Research shows that when we restore an individual’s civil rights it actually reduces recidivism, because people feel more a part of their community, and are encouraged to be on a positive, pro-social track, as opposed to returning to a life of crime.”

Simmons, a newly elected Democrat from East Bremerton, signed up nearly 40 cosponsors from both parties for House Bill 1078, which will be voted on by the members of the House Committee on State Government Thursday morning. Reporting from Olympia, Dan Frizzell.