Keven’s Comments

Years ago, law enforcement agencies, including those in Island County, routinely released mugshots of suspects accused of serious crimes.

Newspapers published those mugshots with articles to keep the public informed.

It was a system that wasn’t broken.

Somewhere along the line, lawmakers decided that it was OK to report that a crime was committed but not release suspect photos.

They broke the system.

Now we’ve come full circle, and state Rep. David Hayes is proposing a bill in Olympia that would make jail mugshots available to the public once again.

The bill is spawned from an Island County case in which a suspect, Garrett J. Edwards, was accused of breaking into a Freeland home and stealing guns, jewelry and electronics.

The victims of the alleged burglary knew a suspect was arrested, but that was it. They were denied access to Edward’s mugshot.

“We investigated every noise within our house and outside. We watched every vehicle that drove past. We watched every individual who walked down our private road. We were living in fear,” Rod Mourant said during testimony in favor of the bill earlier this month.

“So we continued living at home, hearing noises and watching people, and we don’t even know what this person looks like, even if he walked to our front door.”

Rowland Thompson of Allied Daily Newspapers testified in support of the bill. He said Washington is one of only two states west of the Mississippi River that deny full access to booking photos.

If passed, Hayes’ measure, House Bill 1723 will make available to the public the booking photos and electronic images of criminal suspects.

This boils down to a simple case of the public’s right to know — a right that eroded over the years as public-records laws were steadily tightened without real public concern or outcry.

Now the public is waking up and figuring out that withholding public records — mugshots included —doesn’t serve the greater good.

Hayes said his main concern was for victims of crimes, like the Mourants.

“I don’t see this as a big, complicated issue,” he said. “I think it will offer piece of mind to the public.”

Hayes, a deputy sheriff for Snohomish County, said that, under current law, jail booking photos may only be released to the public for “investigative purposes.”

The Island County Sheriff’s Office and Oak Harbor police don’t release booking photos unless the suspects are sought on warrants.

It’s time to reverse this ill-conceived law on the release of mugshots.

HB 1723 is a bill that the Legislature should approve without any hesitation whatsoever.

Editorial by Keven Graves, WNPA President

Keven Graves

Years ago, law enforcement agencies, including those in Island County, routinely released mugshots of suspects accused of serious crimes. Newspapers published those mugshots with articles to keep the public informed. It was a system that wasn’t broken. Somewhere along the line, lawmakers decided that it was OK to report that a crime was committed but […]

Gov. Jay Inslee’s statement on announcement of Senate transportation proposal

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Posted Feb. 25, 2015 “ I want to thank Senate negotiators for their hard work and leadership on transportation. I’ve been advocating for a transportation package since my first day in office and I welcome this development. Overall, I believe the Senate has put forward a strong start. I appreciate that it funds safety and maintenance, completes projects, […]

Strong support voiced Overflow crowd ignites debate on Senate’s transportation package

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Strong support voiced  Overflow crowd ignites debate on Senate’s transportation package   Feb. 25, 2015   By Cooper Inveen WNPA Olympia News Bureau   OLYMPIA—The Senate’s new transportation package is being hailed for its bipartisan support, while some critics find aspects of it troubling.   The proposals were revealed on Feb. 12 after 22 months […]

Surplus state-held water rights targeted for irrigation, local uses

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$15 billion bi-partisan Senate transportation plan unveiled

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Feb. 23, 2015 By Cooper Inveen, Reporter WNPA Olympia News Bureau After 22 months of negotiations, four senators—two Republicans and two Democrats—have unveiled a $15 billion transportation package with an 11.7 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase at its revenue core. “It’s been a thorough and tough negotiation, but we did it with an honest appreciation for […]

Beyond McCleary Education opportunity: Equal but Unequal? Legislators tackling student-achievement gap

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  Feb. 23, 2015 By Alice Day, Reporter WNPA Olympia News Bureau OLYMPIA—Advocates for minority and low-income students are urging legislators to take a closer look at the state’s McCleary obligation to ensure that all students are given equal and ample opportunity to achieve in school. One bill would require state agencies to assess the […]

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Montana Journalism & Job Fair

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Feb. 12, 2015 3rd Annual Montana Journalism Job & Internship Fair Friday, March 6th Don Anderson Hall The University of Montana Come to Missoula to interview our talented students for internships and/or jobs. When you RSVP, please let us know which positions you may be looking to fill, so we can direct students your way. […]

KEYNOTER SETS FEISTY TONE FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE

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NEWS RELEASE Washington Coalition for Open Government 6351 Seaview Avenue NW Seattle Washington 98107-2664 www.washingtoncog.org Phone: (206) 782-0393 Fax: (206) 623-4474 KEYNOTER SETS FEISTY TONE FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE John Paff, who has gained national recognition for his relentless exposure of malfeasance and misfeasance by New Jersey officials at all levels will be the keynote […]

WCOG Bill Status

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For a list of current bills and updates in regard to those bills, please read more.

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