Lawmakers propose program to monitor car theft felons in Spokane

(STORY IMAGE:KHQ.COM)

SPOKANE, Wash. -This week the Washington State Senate approved a bill that would set up a new pilot program in the Spokane area to combat car thefts.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Spokane and Spokane Valley saw a dramatic increase in stolen vehicles from 2015 to 2016, jumping from 25th to 11th, among the nation's worst cities for car thefts.

If approved, the pilot program would supervise felons released from prison who were convicted of vehicle theft. The new program is aimed at dropping the high rate of thefts and prowlings.

If it's successful it could go statewide.

Senator Andy Billig says they're hoping to target the small number of felons who are responsible for a large amount of thefts.

"This bill will increase public safety and help offenders to be more successful re-entering society. Washington is the only state that doesn’t have supervision for property crimes, and many of the auto thefts in our county are committed by repeat offenders. This bill would create a pilot program to provide community supervision for vehicle related property crime offenders as they re-enter our community. Through supervision, the offenders will be given support and connected to resources like job training, education and drug treatment. The hope is that this pilot will show how supervision can reduce recidivism for these offenders and improve public safety," Billig said in a statement.

If this bill is passed, superior court judges will be able to sentence offenders to community  custody for up to a year and will be supervised by the Department of Corrections.

The DOC will then submit a report to the governor and legislature outlining the effectiveness of the program

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