Share story

The article outlining the differences between the candidates for governor is a valuable tool for voters still making up their minds [“Where Gov. Inslee, Bill Bryant stand on 11 key issues in race,” Local News, Oct. 23]. However, it fell short by not examining their positions on much-needed reforms to our criminal-justice system.

Although Washington may claim to be “not that bad” compared to many other states, we still have been significantly impacted by the war on drugs and mass incarceration. There is significant cost to taxpayers in the incarceration of thousands in our prisons and jails, resulting in documented harm to children, families and our communities. Both our juvenile and adult systems disproportionally impact communities of color, particularly African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. Concern for the mentally ill needs to address those caught up in the criminal-justice net who receive little or no treatment. If we are to solve the homelessness problem, we must bring down our incarceration rate while ensuring that those who leave prison are prepared for employment and will find both housing and a job.

Incarceration alone does not make our communities safer. There are proven alternatives. During the next four years, we need a governor who will provide leadership to change the system and move beyond the legacy of the tough-on-crime mentality.

Mary Helen Roberts, Lynnwood, former state representative