House approves Nealey bill that would require inmates to compensate correctional officer assault victims

A measure that would require inmates who assault correctional officers to pay monetary damages to those employees won approval today in the state House of Representatives.

The author of House Bill 1334, Rep. Terry Nealey, said the measure would allow correctional officers who have been assaulted by inmates to obtain civil judgments that could be deducted from an inmate’s wages or gratuities.

“Inmates are compensated for working within the prison walls, but they don’t make very much money. There are several means of consequences prisoners face if they attempt to harm an officer. But giving prisoners who already have lengthy sentences a longer time to serve for engaging in assault is not as effective as hitting them directly in the pocketbook,” said Nealey, R-Dayton. “This measure has proven very effective in other states because it takes away privileges of what their small amount of money can buy. Correctional officers in Walla Walla have told me they believe this method would help deter assaults and provide another important tool for their safety.”

Under the bill, the Department of Corrections (DOC) would be required to deduct 15 to 20 percent of an inmate’s wages or gratuities for the payment of a civil judgment for assault that has been awarded as monetary damages to a correctional officer or a DOC employee. Nealey says portions of an inmate’s income may already be subject to deductions that must be paid first.

“A judgment award would fall in line behind payment for restitution, child support and cost of incarceration. If an inmate is already paying out on those obligations, its my hope they would think twice before engaging in an assault on a corrections officer that could possibly cost them the remainder of their earned pay,” added Nealey.

The measure passed the House 93-1. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications