Washington Democrats hope to go easy on drive-by murderers in order to promote racial equity for criminals. It’s the latest light-on-crime scheme pushed under the guise of being anti-racist.
House Bill 1692 lessens the criminal penalties for drive-by shootings. It prohibits using a drive-by shooting as a basis for elevating a first degree murder charge to an aggravated first degree murder. The bill is also retroactive, lessening punishment for those already found guilty in drive-by shooting cases. It even offers carve-outs to release felons from jail if they committed their violent act when they were under 21-years-old.
The bill’s sponsors, state Representatives Tarra Simmons (D-Bremerton) and David Hackney (D-Tukwila), pre-filed the bill ahead of the Jan. 10, 2022, start to the legislative session. They claim this change promotes “racial equity in the criminal legal system.” It does no such thing. It merely goes easy on criminals who deserve lifetime jail sentences.
HB 1692, if passed, would remove drive-by shootings from the list of aggravated factors. Thus, a drive-by murderer, if charged and convicted, could be released from prison. But the bill goes even farther than reclassifying drive-by shootings.
Through her office, Simmons argued that first degree murder “is a heinous crime which already carries a long and serious sentence.” But, she added, “it’s clear that [this aggravated classification] was targeted at gangs that were predominantly young and Black.” She argues it’s an example of “systemic racism.”
And while Simmons wants to make this issue about saving children from life sentences, her bill applies to adults, the majority of which commit gang-related gun violence. And no child can get life without parole for a drive-by murder in Washington state.
Washington Democrats are some of the country’s most extreme partisans. They pushed through unapologetically anti-police bills under the guise of reform. They view the entirety of the criminal justice system as inherently racist. These so-called “systems of oppression” must be dismantled and reimagined. This is part of that agenda.
Simmons is a leading Democratic voice on this issue.
A convicted felon who became a lawyer after incarceration, she ran on a platform of criminal justice reform. Simmons previously championed a bill that automatically restores the voting rights of criminals who are released from their sentence early, even if they haven’t completed their community custody requirements. Governor Jay Inslee signed this bill into law in 2021.
But a reimagined criminal justice system, to Washington Democrats, is one of endless chances for criminals if those criminals happen to be non-white. Instead of jail time for violent offenders, Democrats push criminals into restorative justice programs. Only there, Democrats believe, can a criminal be truly reformed.
Make that claim to the victims of drive-by shootings who are hit by stray bullets. They usually live in neighborhoods that are majority-minority. And given the high recidivism rate of gang members, being released early from prison despite drive-by murders will likely result in more Hispanic and Black victims. Simmons herself is an example that life doesn’t end due to incarceration.
Democrat-run cities are experiencing an historic crime surge. Take a look at the criminal records of those committing the crimes and you’ll see a prolific crime crisis that can be tied directly to soft-on-crime policies that see criminals go free. Seattle, in particular, has been hit hard.
Assuming it’s the case, it should not matter that more Hispanic or Black suspects are charged with aggravated first degree murder due to a drive-by shooting than white suspects, so long as the white suspects aren’t getting a pass for the exact kinds of behavior. If white suspects are disproportionately charged with rape or murder-for-hire as an aggravating factor, should we end that too? It shows racial disproportionality, after all. Of course not.