Rep. Peter Abbarno opposes measure that lets dangerous criminals out early

Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, urged the House to vote against House Bill 2001, which would help felons reduce their criminal sentences.

The bill passed the House 51-46.


I rise in opposition of this policy. This policy perpetuates a narrative that those who availed themselves to the criminal justice system are now the victims, and that the victims shouldn’t feel victimized, that they shouldn’t feel the way they feel after being hurt by someone else.

And I think that’s not the direct way we should go. I am happy to hear about the many journeys folks who avail themselves of the criminal justice system, committed a crime, rehabilitated themselves, took advantage of some of the opportunities to pull themselves out of the system. In my own legal practice, I see it every day. People who do better are amenable to not just treatment, but success.

Witnessing those journeys, to me, is evidence that the system does and can work in. Over the last few weeks, on this House floor, we’ve passed some amazing bills that even yesterday are open up construction trades to those in the corrections system. There are opportunities here.

What I object to in this policy is the fact that, as the good member from the 18th had mentioned, you cut a deal. You plead to something, you plead guilty, you admit to a crime, were found guilty. There are opportunities to do good within the system and to correct behavior and to come out with less time. What this policy would do is to say everything is unfair. I can continue to come back over and over and over again because I just think that the guilty plea or the sentence is just unfair over and over again.

That’s not how this system should work and most certainly is not what I think I want to see around my community. When you commit a crime, there is a debt to society that you pay. There is a punishment aspect to the corrections system, but there’s also rehabilitation, and that’s that journey, that’s that gateway and pathway that some can choose.

We have that within our system. We are improving it. But to just allow individuals who commit crimes to say, ‘I’m the victim, I should be able to come back and have my sentence reduced without paying my time. And fully going through the system to rehabilitation,’ is not fair, not fair to our communities. So, I’m asking for a no vote.


Washington State House Republican Communications