EHB 1324 Letter to Senate Regarding Retroactivity

Wednesday, April 5, 2023
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April 5, 2023

Dear Democratic Senators:

We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to restore retroactivity to EHB 1324, a bill to stop the use of juvenile adjudications to automatically enhance future sentences in adult courts. This practice disproportionately harms young Indigenous people and Black people in our state.

On March 27, the Senate Law & Justice Committee amended EHB 1324 — against the recommendation of advocates, experts, labor organizations, tribes, and directly impacted people — to remove retroactivity from the bill.

As a matter of fairness and racial justice, we urge you to support an amendment that will restore retroactivity back into the bill.

Washington can and should be a leader in cultivating a justice system that balances the need for accountability with the need for equity and second chances. Instead, we are in the minority of states that automatically sentence people to longer sentences because of crimes they committed as children. This has devastated the lives of young people of color for decades.

This is not news to members of the Senate. Many of you have publicly acknowledged this fact as a reason to change course and take a different approach to sentencing.

But, without retroactivity, any change in the law would fail to provide meaningful accountability for the historical harms we are, collectively, responsible for, including for the approximately 809-1,437 people who would benefit from resentencing under EHB 1324. Passing EHB 1324, without retroactivity, perpetuates bad policy that does nothing more than preserve existing racial inequities for those still incarcerated. Your colleagues in the House have allocated court requested funding in the budget for resentencings and the courts have developed clear procedures for efficient second looks.

Community members who were convicted and sentenced during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, have families, friends, and other loved ones who continue to shoulder the burden of our state’s historic failures. The Senate has a unique opportunity to correct these failures by supporting a version of EHB 1324 that includes retroactivity.

Communities need retroactivity so they can begin to heal from the impacts of a sentencing system that has thrown away entire generations of its members.

There has never been a better time to reckon with the harm done to Black, brown, Indigenous and low-income communities.

Please restore retroactivity to EHB 1324.


ACLU of Washington Washington
State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
SEIU 775
UAW 4121
Minority & Justice Commission
Washington Chapter of American Academy of Pediatricians
Adam Cornell, Former Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney
Judge Theresa Doyle (Ret.)
Chief Seattle Club
Washington Defender Association
Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
League of Women Voters Washington
Civil Survival
Disability Rights
Washington Native American Reentry Services
Collective Justice
Freedom Project
Community Passageways
Burien People Power
Black Prisoner’s Caucus Community Group
Washington Partners for Social Change
Burien People Power
Indivisible Eastside
Indivisible Plus Washington
Indivisible Vashon
Indivisible Washington’s 8th District
Wallingford Indivisible
Information for a Change
Liberation Media Northwest
Nuestro Grupo Cultural-Stafford Creek Chapter
Participatory Justice
People Power Washington
University Beyond Bars
Vashon Maury Showing up for Racial Justice Criminal Justice Action Team