Bill to protect rights of victims and survivors passes Senate

OLYMPIAA bill sponsored by Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, that would prioritize the safety of crime victims by expanding their right to be informed of the trial and sentencing hearing of the offender in their case passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday.

Senate Bill 5635 applies to victims and the survivors of victims and would also allow them to present a statement in person or by representation at the sentencing hearing. It requires that victims’ safety be more of a factor when the court considers bail, as well as requires that victims or their survivors to be informed of the offender’s place of incarceration, their release date (if any), and escape by the offender.

Included in the bill is the Washington State Legislature’s intent to provide funding to support crime victim advocates and prosecutors as they work to protect the rights of victims, their survivors, and any witnesses of crimes.

“With crime at record levels, victims of crime – or their survivors – need assurance that their rights, security, and safety are taken seriously,” said Braun. “They should have the opportunity to speak to the court, and their safety must be considered when determining bail for their offender. These seem like basic rights, but they are important for victims. They are a big step forward. This bill places a higher priority on the rights of those an offender has harmed. That’s the balance our courts have been missing.”

SB 5635 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.