Church of the Holy Spirit’s Advocacy Project for Criminal Justice Reform
Why Is the CHS Outreach Committee Interested In Criminal Justice Reform?
In the year following the murder of George Floyd, a contingent of parishioners from the Church of the Holy Spirit (Episcopal) completed an intensive workshop/study program on racial justice called “Sacred Ground” (designed by the national Episcopal church). Our study program introduced us to grim truths about racism in the United States including the horrors of Jim Crow segregation, lynchings, forced prison labor, race discrimination in GI Bill benefits, redlining in housing, and the race-motivated anti-crime and anti-drug laws of the 80s and 90s that led to mass incarceration. Puzzling over what our little congregation might do to fight systemic racism, the CHS Outreach Committee decided—partly inspired by the work of Episcopal Policy Network at the national level—to become public advocates for criminal justice reform in Washington state.
Our Recent Work
In 2022, in preparation for the 2023 legislative session. we partnered with the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL) to sponsor a webinar on ending mass incarceration. For the 2024 session, we are sponsoring a more ambitious webinar focused on three top-priority bills aimed at different aspects of prison reform:
- A “traffic stops” bill sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union [HB 1513]. This bill addresses current policing practices for low-level traffic stops that disproportionately harm marginalized communities.
- A bill on limiting solitary confinement sponsored by Disability Rights Washington [HB 1087]. This bill limits the practice of solitary confinement, which subjects hundreds of incarcerated persons to psychological torture.
- A bill on reigning in sentencing add-ons for weapons possession sponsored by the Washington Public Defender Association and the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers [HB 1298]. This bill limits the use of punitive add-ons for weapons possession—a practice that leads to exceptionally long sentences, takes discretion away from judges, and leads to mass incarceration.
Webinar on Criminal Justice Reform in Washington State
January 4, 2024, 7:00-8:30 pm
Free registration: Email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “criminal justice webinar” in subject line.
Inspired by our commitment to racial justice, the Church of the Holy Spirit on Vashon Island (Episcopal) is sponsoring a webinar on criminal justice reform. Webinar speakers will explain three top-priority bills before the 2024 state legislature to help undo the racial, social, and spiritual harms of Washington state’s criminal justice system. Passage of these reform bills will be incremental steps toward a criminal justice system emphasizing rehabilitation and hope rather than excessive punishment.
Webinar speakers are:
Moderator: Cindy Arends Elsberry, Resentencing Resource Attorney for the Washington Defender Association,
Traffic Stops: Enoka Herat, ACLU attorney
Limiting Solitary Confinement: Rachael Seevers, staff attorney for Disability Rights Washington
Reining in Sentencing Add-On: David Trieweiler, criminal defense lawyer and chair of End Mass Incarceration Project
Sponsored by Church of the Holy Spirit (Episcopal) on Vashon Island, Washington