HB 1553 establishes Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) that provide a process for people who were previously sentenced by a WA court and who have successfully changed their lives to seek a court document confirming their changed circumstances. The bill identifies criteria for applying for a CROP (e.g. who can/can't apply, the length of time that must have elapsed from sentencing in order to apply), the decision-making authority of the court with respect to issuing a CROP, and the like. Applications for a CROP must be filed as a civil action and courts in which applications have been filed must schedule hearings a minimum of 4 times per year. The Administrative Office of the Courts is directed to develop an informational brochure designed to assist applicants applying for a CROP. The Dept. of Social and Health Services and Dept. of Health are immune from suit based upon its exercise of discretion as laid out in the legislation. A CROP does not apply to the state's abuse and neglect registry and the Dept. of Social and Health Services must include CROPs as part of its criminal history records, qualifying letters, or other assessments. Additionally, the bill states, a CROP does not affect any employer's or housing provider's discretion to individually assess every applicant and to hire or rent to the applicants of their choice.
As amended by the Public Safety Committee: As amended, HB 1553 does the following: (1) limits the scope of the immunity granted to the Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Health by providing immunity from suit for damages rather than immunity from suit generally; (2) clarifies that an applicant for a certificate must provide notice of the application to all prosecuting attorneys in all jurisdictions where the applicant was convicted of a crime in the five years preceding the application; (3) requires that a court declining to consider an application or dismissing an application must state the reasons for its decision on the order; (4) clarifies that the Washington State Gambling Commission is exempt from the act; and (5) makes technical corrections.
House Floor Amendments: The bill as amended requires a person, in order to be eligible for a certificate of restoration of opportunity, to be fully compliant with a payment plan unless good cause is established with the court, rather than having made nine payments in the last twelve months or has good cause for missing payments. Additionally, the bill as amended requires the Department of Social and Health Services to adopt rules to implement the following obligations: The certificate of restoration of opportunity cannot be included in the state abuse and neglect registry; A finding of abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property based on a certificate of restoration of opportunity cannot be removed; and a certificate of restoration of opportunity shall be included in criminal history reports. Further, the Department of Health is required to include a certificate of restoration of opportunity on its public website under certain circumstances.