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Gregoire proposes sentencing changes

Wed., Jan. 13, 2010, 12:06 p.m.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire wants sentencing changes for offenders who are mentally ill.

At a news conference Wednesday, she said that her proposed new option in the state’s justice system would add the charge of guilty and mentally ill. It would allow courts to find a person guilty of a crime and sentence them to prison, instead of a state psychiatric hospital. Gregoire says that they would still receive the mental health treatment they need while in prison.

She also wants people who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity to face a panel that would consider whether the release would harm the community. Both ideas have to be approved by the Legislature. Gregoire reiterated her support for a constitutional amendment that would give judges more leeway to deny bail.

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