One of the many resentencing bills from last year has been brought back to life. That bill is Rep. Goodman’s ESHB 1169. If you remember, this bill eliminates two sentencing enhancements: the sentencing enhancement for certain controlled substances violations committed in protected zones, and the sentencing enhancement for involving a minor in a criminal street gang-related felony. It also eliminates mandatory stacking of firearms and deadly weapons enhancements and, instead, allows the court discretion to order that the enhancements be served consecutively. The restrictions on partial confinement and earned early release for all sentencing enhancements are removed. This includes firearm and weapons enhancements, impaired driving enhancements, and sexual motivation enhancements, for which partial confinement and earned release are expressly prohibited under current law. These changes apply retroactively to any person currently serving an applicable sentence.

What does this mean for counties?

While this may result in savings to the state due to a shortened length of stay at a DOC facility, it will also result in costs to counties for resentencing hearings. As you know, any hearing includes time and resources for the court, prosecutor, defense, clerks, and any other affiliated court staff. And, during a time when we face massive court backlogs due to the pandemic and made worse by Blake, it simply adds to the burden. Hopefully, funding for this bill is included in the House’s operating budget. However, if it is not, we will continue to ask that the State consider using the State’s savings to fund the costs the counties will face.

If this bill impacts a handful of cases, we wouldn’t be making much noise. But, based on a fiscal note from last year, there are at a minimum of 920 individuals in custody who would be impacted. There is no doubt, many more individuals who would need to be resentenced. So, we will hold our breath until the release of the House budget next week.