Almost 2,000 people over the age of 50 are locked up in Washington’s state prisons. Hundreds have served decades in prison and despite their low risk of recidivism, they have little to no hope of ever being released. Instead, these inmates continue to age behind bars, at enormous cost to them, their communities, and to taxpayers.

Disability Rights Washington’s AVID Program has joined a coalition of community advocates to amplify the voices of incarcerated people and their families who are seeking to create a system of post-conviction review for people who have served extended sentences. This “Second Look” legislation would create a process for reviewing  people who have served more than 15-20 years in prison and made substantial steps towards rehabilitation. No one deserves death by incarceration and we believe that people can change and that all lives have value.  Second Look legislation would allow people who have grown and learned while in prison, through rehabilitative programming, mental health and drug treatment, and employment programs,  to bring that knowledge back to the community and their families as productive, valued members of our society. Click here for more information on the legislation.

To support this effort, and show the public what our greying prison population really looks like, we teamed up with Rooted in Rights to make a video about the impact of life and long sentences on our aging population, featuring incarcerated people, experts in the field, and crime survivors, all calling for lawmakers to establish post-conviction review for older inmates in Washington.

For more information about this legislative initiative, and how to get involved, please send an email to: greybehindbars@dr-wa.org.

You can also join movement on Facebook by joining the group Restorative and Responsible Justice at https://www.facebook.com/groups/264855901019371/.


Press

King5 News: ‘This isn’t what prisons were designed for’: State struggles with aging inmates

The News Tribune: Giving prisoners serving life sentences a chance of release is a good idea

KUOW: Aging in Prison, Rachael Seevers

KUOW: The Challenges of the Aging Prison Population