Politics & Government

Legislature may require different counties to take former convicts

The state House has passed a bill that Pierce County's delegation hopes will steer future prison work-release centers and offenders away from Tacoma and Lakewood and into other counties.

House Bill 1733, the so-called "fair share" bill, would require the state prison and social service agencies to take into account how many residential facilities for adult and juvenile offenders already exist in a county before putting any more there.

"The (corrections) department shall make substantial efforts to provide for the equitable distribution of work-release facilities among counties," the bill says.

That means prison officials would have to "give great weight" to how many criminals are sent to prison by each county's courts, how many sex offenders live in each county, and "to the extent practicable" how many ex-convicts already are living in each county, compared with the rest of the population.

Three of the state's 16 work-release centers are in Tacoma. Rep. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, prime sponsor of HB 1733, said two-thirds of the inmates placed in Tacoma's three state work-

release centers and the now-closed pre-release center in Lakewood committed their first crimes outside Pierce County.

"Enough is enough," Conway said. "Pierce County is not a dumping ground for the rest of the state."

The measure passed on a 75-21 vote just before midnight Tuesday as the Legislature raced toward a key deadline Wednesday for bills to clear the House or Senate. The bill now goes to the Senate.