New law offers prison alternatives for mentally ill

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a measure that will soon offer an alternative to prison for people with a serious mental illness who commit a crime.

The Northwest News Network reported that, under the new law signed Monday by Inslee, judges will have the option to sentence a person to community supervision and treatment in lieu of prison.

Washington already offers sentencing alternatives for certain drug offenders and certain sex offenders.

The program — which takes effect July 25 — will be open to individuals who are convicted of a felony crime that is not a serious violent offense or a sex offense.

The person would have to be willing to participate in the sentencing alternative, the court would have to determine the individual would benefit from community-based supervision and treatment, and the opinion of the person’s victim would also be considered.

If the person were to violate the conditions of the sentencing alternative, they could be sent to prison to serve the sentence.

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