Washington State Rep Looks to Pay Prisoners Minimum Wage
The legislative session is officially underway and a number of bills will soon be introduced in committees, and then the floor, in the hopes of becoming law. As is the case every session, a number of bills have been pre-filed to give the public an idea of what some lawmakers have as their priorities.
Rep. Tarra Simmons D- Bremerton pre-filed HB 1024 "The Real Labor, Real Wages Act". The bill would pay inmates minimum wage for working in jobs in the State prison system. Currently inmates are believed to earn between 65 cents and $2.70 per hour. Those who support the bill believe the State is profiting off some of the work being done by inmates and they should be properly compensated.
Washington State is one of many that has a Correctional industries program. The CI program is where inmates make good available for purchase through outside sales. According to the Class II Market Shares reports for Washington State Correctional Industries dated November 2022, it appears CI brought in nearly $70 million during fiscal year 2022.
The path of the bill will be interesting to follow. It had its first reading and was refereed to The House referred to Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry. It is scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry at 4:00 PM on Tuesday January 10th.
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