COVID-19: releasing DOC inmates not the right call

Legislative update from Olympia

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Dear Neighbor,

This week’s newsletter will have an unfamiliar tone. It reflects my frustration with the unfortunate politicization of our current situation. I have tried hard to be supportive of the governor during this extremely difficult time and, in fact, I think many of the early steps we took as a state were prudent and effective. I believe in supporting the executive branch in difficult times as they make hard decisions and in giving due credit when they get it right. But it is clear to me that the governor has strayed from fighting coronavirus to implementing his ideological agenda. His recent proclamation commuting criminal sentences and compelling “early releases” of inmates into our communities flies in the face of logic and does nothing to make Washington safer from either COVID-19 or potential criminal activity. 

The governor is fond of saying, “We’ll go where the science and data takes us”; a sentiment I share. He is clearly ignoring the data now.  The Department of Corrections has done an admirable job of controlling COVID-19 in our inmate population. Statewide, there are only 10 inmates who have contracted the disease; none have died. That data suggests that a correctional facility is actually safer than being in the general population. This is nothing more than a “never let a good crisis go to waste” power play and I am deeply disappointed.

As we see great progress and the number of COVID-19 cases dramatically drop, we should be working toward repairing our state’s economy. Once necessary restrictions on our workers, businesses and industries need to be phased out and soon. People need to and want to get back to work! As the governor makes the evening news over pacts with other states -- which, in my opinion, gets close to violating the United States Constitution (Section 1, Article 10) which states “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay”  -- we see the Small Business Administration emergency funding completely depleted. Saving our businesses large and small should be the priority now. 

For weeks I have joined with my caucus providing input and carrying your messages to the governor’s office in attempts to move our communities forward and out of this crisis. The response feels increasing tone-deaf.  I sincerely hope we can get back to working for our people across all branches of your government.

I encourage you all to arm yourselves with the facts of our COVID-19 progress by going to the Washington state Department of Health website. There you can find day-by-day data and graphs on active cases, deaths, etc.  We are winning and it is time to get Washington working again.


Some good news!

This week, 80 million people should have received their coronavirus stimulus checks through direct deposit if they filed their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. Not all U.S. citizens are eligible for this Economic Impact Payment. For more information and to see if you qualify, click here. If you are eligible and have not received your payment, the IRS has added a tracker to their website, click here for more information.


Taking care of your mental health

Feeling stressed? You aren’t alone. The new reality brought on by COVID-19 can be overwhelming. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put together some resources to help us all cope during this challenging time. Click here to learn more.


As always, it is a pleasure and an honor to represent you.



April 17, 2020

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Senator Wagoner...


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