Proposal would give prisoners a 500% pay increase
February 2, 2023

Proposal would give prisoners a 500% pay increase

On January 30, 2023, the State of Washington sentenced four members of the group Crew 38 to over two years in prison for the violent and racially motivated assault of a black DJ at a bar in Lynwood. After the DJ asked them to move away from his music equipment, the four jumped him and beat him while yelling out racial slurs.

On January 31st, the following day, Daniel Espinoza was sentenced to ten years in prison. Espinoza led a mid-level gang and trafficking group responsible for distributing fentanyl, among other drugs, to neighborhoods in Washington state on behalf of the CJNG cartel. Fentanyl, as included in the prosecution’s statement, is responsible for “an average of 17 deaths per week in King County” and is a growing crisis on our streets.

Criminals like these are convicted and sentenced every day in Washington, often at great expense to law-abiding citizens. The Daniel Espinoza case was the result of an 18-month sting operation that took careful planning, thousands of man-hours, and sizable cost. All of which is worth it to bring criminals like that to justice.

If some Democrats in Olympia have their way, they will be giving criminals like these a pay increase of over 500%.

HB1024, among other things, will bring labor pay for the incarcerated up to the state’s minimum wage of $15.74 per hour (the highest in the country). Currently, the most inmates in Washington can make is $2.70 per hour.

The bill was initially proposed by State Rep. Tarra Simmons, a Democrat from Bremerton who was the first formerly incarcerated individual to be elected to the state legislature. If passed, it will be the first of its kind nationwide, bringing the wages of inmates, which are already comparatively high, to astronomical levels in light of what other states pay their prisoners to work.

Why don’t we just advertise that it pays to be a criminal in the state of Washington? Not only do they get a place to sleep, steady meals, and access to medical and mental health services, but they can get out with a nest egg saved up. All of this will be funded by the very people hurt by the criminal acts they do.

This is just one more example of the misplaced priorities of some Democrats putting the desires of criminals over the needs of law-abiding citizens. When was the last time you got a raise? A 500% raise? How many times does the legislature need to ignore the obvious before we say enough is enough?

In order to fund the spike in wages, Democrats are wanting to give more money to the Department of Corrections, money that could be going back to the taxpayers who are struggling with inflation, high gas prices, layoffs and the looming threat of a recession. Seattle is experiencing the third-highest rise in inflation across the country, beat only by Miami and Phoenix, with a rate of 8.4%. Instead of putting tax surplus back into your pockets to help buy eggs and pay for gas, some legislators want to give that money to criminals.

Not only is the jump from $2.70 to $15.74 an unfathomable jump in wages (a wage adjustment for inflation would result in a raise to $2.93, which is more than the 4% wage increase proposed for Washington state workers), but it is a gross misunderstanding of the retributive nature of justice in America.

Our justice system was founded on the principle that the perpetrator is punished and the victim is compensated in a way that is commensurate with the crime committed. We have always put victims first, at least we used to. Unfortunately, there seem to be some in our legislature who have flipped the script, compensating the perpetrator at the expense of the victims.

This bill sadly fits with the priorities, or lack of priorities, of Governor Inslee. In his recent State of the State, he all but ignored the fact that violent crime has increased the last two years while the funding to hire officers to keep crime at bay has decreased.

Instead of prioritizing law-abiding citizens and protecting the best interest of victims, Governor Inslee and members of his party want to give prisoners a 500% pay increase that comes out of your wallet.

HB1024 is bad for you and bad for Washington, unless, of course, you’re in prison.

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