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-   -   Washington State Ombuds bills in committee now (http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=698562)

Minor activist 02-11-2017 05:15 PM

Washington State Ombuds bills in committee now
 
This would create an office outside the DOC with power to investigate the DOC that could take complaints from loved ones on the outside. Also, within limits, the ombuds office could investigate problems reported by DOC employees.

There are two bills to do it, one in the Senate and one in the House. For more information, see
http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?Bi...5465&Year=2017
and
http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?Bi...1889&Year=2017

You might have a Representative or Senator on one of the relevant committees. This link lets you look up your legislators:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder

If you're in Spokane then your state Senator, Sen. Padden, is chairman of the committee studying it.

Or you could let the 800 number operators look it up for you. You can call 800-562-6000 and leave one message that will go to both of your Representatives and to your Senator.

Ask your legislators flat out to vote "yes" or to vote "no" depending on whether you think it's a good or a bad idea. Have the bill numbers handy, 5465 for the Senate and 1889 for the House. If you have a personal story to tell them, it makes your call or email more powerful.

Move fast. If it doesn't get out of committee by Feb. 17 it's dead for the session if I understand the calendar right.

Minor activist 02-18-2017 04:58 AM

Both the House and Senate bills have made it to the next step which is the budget committees.

If you look at leg.wa.gov you can find out who the members are of the Senate Ways and Means committee and the House Appropriations Committee. They've both got lots of members, so you have some chance your own rep is a committee member. I'd expect the operators at 800-562-6000 also would know and tell you.

I notice nobody on here ever campaigns for a law so there must be some kind of forum rule against it. Let me just say that anyone with a friend or family member under DOC control in Washington should take a look at this bill and decide whether it's a good idea and then act. For a look at what other outmates think, you can watch Melody Simle and Julie Tackett talk about a previous version in an interview at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hVh6L6gZ4A&t=160s

Minor activist 03-18-2017 07:06 PM

Today's news on the ombuds bill
 
The House version died in committee. The Senate version passed the Senate and has proceeded to the House, so they have a second chance to pass it.

On 3/21 it gets a hearing at the Public Safety committee. It's expected to get out of that committee OK but may have a struggle when it gets to the budget committee. The list of Appropriations Committee members is at http://leg.wa.gov/House/Committees/A...bersStaff.aspx so you can check whether one of your representatives is on it. Go to http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/ to find out who your representatives are.

Minor activist 04-03-2017 09:55 PM

House Appropriations Committee hearing tomorrow at 1:30. It almost didn't make it onto the calendar before deadline.

Minor activist 04-06-2017 08:44 PM

Out of Appropriations in one piece! Now the Rules Committee peers at it and pokes it with a stick. I believe that's the last committee before it goes to an actual vote on the floor of the House.

GingerM 04-07-2017 05:57 AM

I hope it gets passed. Although I feel for whoever would be appointed/elected/hired to do the job - there are going to be people camping on his/her doorstep for MONTHS.

tormented_toy 04-10-2017 10:32 AM

Unfortunately, I feel the same way. Whoever does take on this job will be railroaded from the start. Everyone that has ever had any involvement with Washington DOC knows that is one big "good ole' boys network" it's their way or the highway. Even though it says it's independent of DOC I'm sure they will have a hand in it anyway. DOC does not like being told they are doing something wrong ever. When they are told you can expect retaliation to follow.

Minor activist 04-10-2017 12:30 PM

This time around, the WA DOC has the Republicans mad at them over the early release scandal. Politically, they've lost their support from "law and order" types. If the DOC finds some way to undermine the ombudsman, they're going to have some very unhappy legislators to answer to on both sides of the aisle including the chairman of the Senate committee that oversees them.

I don't know if this will work! But worth trying.

Minor activist 04-12-2017 10:48 AM

Yet more drama today. Today's the last day to get it to a floor vote. The House leadership hasn't agreed yet to let it have a vote.

If anyone wants to push things along, my understanding is that Speaker Frank Chopp is the one who will make the decision and that he will decide based on what he hears from Rep. Roger Goodman, the chair of the Public Safety committee. Rep. Goodman is at (360) 786 - 7878 and if you're in the Woodinville-Kirkland-whatnot area you may even be in his district.

Minor activist 04-14-2017 02:24 PM

Dead for this session despite widespread support. There is hope for it to come back to life in special session.

The Seattle Times has a pretty good article about the history and the political forces at http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-...ne-in-olympia/

tormented_toy 04-27-2017 07:52 PM

Since you guys are on top of this ....
 
My brother has been in just about every Prison in Washington, not because he has had multiple crimes - just the one. He has been moved around like a rag doll being thrown out because of retaliation.

The Ombuds program that is supposed to help. Last night I got a phone call from my brother at yet another new Prison telling me about Mr. Caldwell paying them a visit with their new Ombudsman, Mr. Lugo.

Mr. Caldwell is the grievance coordinator in Olympia. He had a little chat with some of the inmates letting them know that he has an open door policy and that he "personally" responds to every kite, grievance, letter, and email he receives. Right away I have a problem with all of this. All the trouble to get someone placed to help investigate that didn't have the same mindset of the staff and admin. These two, Caldwell and Lugo are looking and sounding like 2 peas in a pod.

Yet another ploy to grab more money from the State.

Minor activist 04-27-2017 10:15 PM

5294 would create something close to the opposite of Mr. Lugo's office. The ombuds office I and others have been pushing for would have its own budget and couldn't be fired by the DOC.

Mr. Lugo's office is part of the DOC's lobbying department, which says something.

WA CCO 04-29-2017 01:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tormented_toy (Post 7623876)
My brother has been in just about every Prison in Washington, not because he has had multiple crimes - just the one. He has been moved around like a rag doll being thrown out because of retaliation.

The Ombuds program that is supposed to help. Last night I got a phone call from my brother at yet another new Prison telling me about Mr. Caldwell paying them a visit with their new Ombudsman, Mr. Lugo.

Mr. Caldwell is the grievance coordinator in Olympia. He had a little chat with some of the inmates letting them know that he has an open door policy and that he "personally" responds to every kite, grievance, letter, and email he receives. Right away I have a problem with all of this. All the trouble to get someone placed to help investigate that didn't have the same mindset of the staff and admin. These two, Caldwell and Lugo are looking and sounding like 2 peas in a pod.

Yet another ploy to grab more money from the State.

After reading the different versions of the bill, the Ombuds program would've done nothing to help anyway.

It's just more bureaucracy with little to no statutory authority. I don't remember which version had it but the best the new program could do is make non-binding recommendations to DOC.

Minor activist 04-29-2017 02:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WA CCO (Post 7624430)
After reading the different versions of the bill, the Ombuds program would've done nothing to help anyway.

It's just more bureaucracy with little to no statutory authority. I don't remember which version had it but the best the new program could do is make non-binding recommendations to DOC.

It won't do the same job as an inspector general. The recommendations are as you said non-binding. On the other hand when the DOC gets a non-binding recommendation based on investigation and cc'ed to the people who sign their paychecks, it could be influential.

My hope is for something that connects the DOC brass with the reality of what goes on. Right now their ideas come from reports from people afraid of retaliation if they rock the boat. I read the comments from the "fixdoc" website and it sure doesn't sound like the DOC has healthy internal communications.

I'm hoping the Legislature will get more of a window into what they're paying for. Information is power. Ombuds reports would give the legislature another tool for oversight. That's why it was the number 1 recommendation the Republicans had for improvements.

I'm hoping the office can lead talks to settle disputes before they turn into lawsuits. The King County ombuds office saved the county who knows how much money when a lawsuit got thrown out because the ombuds office had already solved the problem with a bit of negotiation with decision makers.

WA CCO 05-01-2017 09:21 AM

A new multi-million dollar group is not what's needed.

A heavily biased group (one version had almost half the board made of offenders/family) which has the ability to cherry pick which investigations it wants. Probably isn't going to give legislatures a clear picture.

No where in any version does it stop lawsuits. Suing the state is big money. As far as stopping lawsuits, the same could be said about the current grievance process.

Communication? That's a separate topic that this board has little to no ability to fix.

Now an IG could be useful.

GingerM 05-01-2017 09:34 PM

Quote:

Now an IG could be useful.
I agree wholeheartedly with this, especially if the IG was part of the judicial branch and not getting paid by the executive branch.

Minor activist 05-01-2017 11:27 PM

Ombuds offices come cheap. I called around on behalf of the coalition and found out that the states with ombuds offices were usually spending six figures a year or not much more on them.

Here are the legislature's Fiscal Notes on 5294, which include the non-ombuds expenses too:
https://fortress.wa.gov/FNSPublicSea...ackageID=48006
https://fortress.wa.gov/FNSPublicSea...ackageID=47239

WA CCO has it right of course about the uselessness of more bureaucracy. The cool thing about an ombuds office is the ability to cut red tape and to get people on the phone to solve a problem instead of forming a committee to study it.

If Disability Rights Washington gets the contract, well, I don't know firsthand but they do talk proudly about getting to yes and not getting to court. They say they've fixed problems by negotiation that have gone to court in other states. Anyone here with direct experience dealing with them?

Minor activist 06-25-2017 08:25 AM

Today's situation is that there's a new bill number, SB 5952. The thing that needs work is getting it to an up-or-down floor vote in the House. That's up to House Speaker Frank Chopp.

Chopp is from the 43d District and his phone number is (360) 786 - 7920[moderators, is it kosher to post contact information if it's for a public official?]. The 43d District "covers parts of Seattle, specifically Downtown, First Hill, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Washington Park, Madison Park, Eastlake, Montlake, Portage Bay, Wallingford, Fremont, the University District (including the UW campus), Green Lake and parts of Phinney Ridge and Ravenna."

There have been several amendments and additions to the bill but it still says the key things about the purpose. The advisory committee looks like it's changed: it's now including two former DOC employees plus a current DOC chaplain plus DOC's internal "ombuds" on top of the outside corrections expert and bargaining unit representative in previous versions.

It requires at least starting the internal grievance process first. The ombuds can come in immediately if it's a bodily harm issue, or after 90 days if the grievance is still going through channels.

Facility access is now "reasonable" rather than on demand.

Hmm -- if I read it right it doesn't cover community supervision. "Physical custody" only. Makes sense I guess.

People who read things before they decide, like WA CCO, can read the full text at http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/bienni...lls/5952-S.pdf

Call or email Frank Chopp if you believe the bill deserves to have the House decide whether it's a good idea.

GingerM 06-26-2017 05:47 AM

Quote:

[moderators, is it kosher to post contact information if it's for a public official?]
If it is related to prisons/inmates/loved ones AND it is on topic AND it is not seeking money (e.g., advertising) AND it is not the private phone number for an individual, then yes.

Thanks for keeping us informed.

Minor activist 07-14-2017 04:49 PM

I've never been this involved in lobbying for a bill before and nothing prepared me for how bizarre the process is.

The currently relevant bill number is SB 5294 and the current problem is that the Governor doesn't like it. His stated reasons have so little to do with reality that they're not worth mentioning. As near as anyone I'm working with can tell, the real reason is that so much of the bill is the work of a Republican he's at odds with.

I have left a message at 360-902-4111 urging that he sign the bill and giving some reasons. There could be some real power if family members of WA prisoners called and said how much they need this or something like it. You won't have to argue or anything -- you'll be speaking to someone whose job is to take down and count the opinions coming in.

Minor activist 07-19-2017 11:29 AM

Here's some more information, a Seattle Times article about the politics surrounding the bill.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-...ets-the-blame/

Quote:

“We’ve received reports that it’s the governor’s office that’s put pressure on the [House] speaker not to bring that bill up in the House,” said Padden, chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
“If we don’t enact some of these reforms, we could be right back in the same boat that we were, that caused the early release scandal,” Padden said.
Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith disputed that account.
“We let the chairs of the House and Senate committees know we had concerns but there was no ‘heavy lobbying,’ ” Smith wrote in an email.
<snip>
But Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland and chair of the House Public Safety Committee, described the governor’s objections in stronger terms.
“The governor’s office still strenuously objected to the bill,” Goodman said.

Minor activist 08-08-2017 08:02 PM

The legislature has ended their session and this didn't pass. I don't know whether it has to start from scratch again next session.

GingerM 08-09-2017 05:39 AM

I believe it would need to be re-introduced, though one of the hardest parts is the writing/negotiating/dickering that goes on. So re-introduction often goes more smoothly the second time around since a lot of the rough spots have been smoothed out.

Minor activist 11-12-2017 10:59 AM

The loose-knit coalition to create an ombudsman office is meeting again for the new legislative session. The bill is going to get re-introduced. The hard part is expected to be same as last year, overcoming the governor's opposition. Other than that it's had solid bipartisan support.

As before I'll keep people here posted.

Minor activist 11-29-2017 05:39 PM

This year's version is in motion in the House. The bill number is 1889.


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