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Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Examination of Washington State Sentencing Guidelines: A Report for the Criminal Sentencing Task Force

In 2019, the legislature established the Washington State Criminal Sentencing Task Force (CSTF) through ESHB 1109. The CSTF comprises representation from the legislature, criminal-justice related state and local government agencies, and various community organizations. The establishing statute provided funds to the Ruckelshaus Center for facilitation services and directed the CSTF to “review state sentencing laws” and to “develop recommendations for the purpose of: (a) reducing sentencing implementation complexities and errors; (b) improving the effectiveness of the sentencing system; and (c) promoting and improving public safety.”

The CSTF established a working group to develop proposals for reforming the current Washington State Sentencing Guidelines (RCW 9.94A.510). In 2020, WSIPP’s Board of Directors approved a contract with the CSTF to complete a study using historical sentencing data to examine how sentences would potentially change as a result of proposed changes to the guidelines grid. The study will also include an examination of racial, ethnic, and gender-based differences in sentencing under the current grid and the proposed modifications to the grid.

The final report is due to the Ruckelshaus Center on March 31, 2021.
Lauren Knoth, (360) 664-9805