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Legislative Session 2022 Policy Positions and Progress

WCSAP Priority

Because of federal funding (VOCA) decreases, the field faces another year of reductions in the amount allocated to the state of Washington for crime victim services and civil legal aid in 2022 and 2023. This reduction is expected to be beyond what was predicted at budget-writing time this spring, approximately 7.5 million.

This legislative ask will be WCSAP's primary focus this legislative session in collaboration with the Sexual Assault Working Group, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Office of Civil Legal Aid, Child Advocacy Centers of Washington, Northwest Immigrant Rights Program, and others.

We are in need of members to share stories and impacts of funding cuts with legislators. 

Free Maddesyn George

Maddesyn George is a young Native mother, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, and a survivor of sexual and domestic violence. She has been incarcerated since July 2020 for defending herself against her attacker. Instead of receiving support after suffering a traumatic experience, Maddesyn was incarcerated and denied bail, and separated from her infant daughter and community. She is being prosecuted by the U.S. federal government. Maddesyn has accepted a plea deal and is currently awaiting her sentencing hearing, which has been rescheduled for November 17. She faces up to seventeen years in prison.

Maddesyn’s story is emblematic of the ways U.S. criminal legal systems all too often neglect or exacerbate harm against Indigenous victims and survivors of violence. The targeting of Native women for violence is a fundamental aspect of settler colonialism both historically and today. Visit the full campaign website here.

WCSAP commits to not enforcing NDAs against former employees

On September 29, 2021 WCSAP's board of directors voted to publicly commit to not enforce Non Disclosure Agreements (NDSs) in place against former employees who speak out about their experiences of racism or other discrimination during their employment at the organization. This decision was based on our board's commitment to furthering transparency and accountability, related to harms experienced by former WCSAP employees. The NDAs have the effect of silencing people from sharing about their experiences of harm, which is in direct opposition to our movement's role in supporting survivors in telling their stories.

 

*note: Previously, this post had a typo and said that the vote was on September 30, 2021. The WCSAP Board of Directors actually completed their vote on September 29, 2021. The post has been updated to reflect this error.

Statement on new Texas Abortion Law From the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)

released September 9, 2021
by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)

TAASA unequivocally stands with survivors of sexual assault. We believe survivors of sexual assault deserve dignity, privacy, and bodily autonomy.

It's important for all Texans to confront the realities of rape. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the prevalence of rape is high and survivors are often blamed for their victimization. In Texas, 1 in 5 men and 2 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Despite these alarming figures, we are rarely able to hold rapists accountable; more than 90% of sexual assaults are never reported to the police.

VOCA Fix updated from June 2021 WCSAP Legislative Review

The VOCA Fix became law on July 22, 2021

Deposits into the federal Crime Victims Fund have dropped dramatically in the last several years, leading to a substantial cut to VOCA victim assistance grants to states (which then get distributed to local programs). Survivor advocacy organizations across the country are facing budget cuts, staff layoffs, and even program closures while demand for services is growing. Congress had the opportunity to fix this by ensuring federal financial penalties from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements are treated the same way as penalties resulting from criminal convictions — that they go to serve and compensate survivors of crime.

On Thursday, July 22, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 became law. Sustained support and messaging from advocates and survivors around the country led to the VOCA Fix being secured with 100 yes votes in the Senate and 384 yes votes in the House of Representatives.

Thoughts on the Trial of R. Kelly

R. Kelly's federal trial began last Wednesday in New York. He is being charged with racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor, and sex trafficking, as well as eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits sex trafficking across state lines. At our recent staff meeting, WCSAP staff were discussing how and why this man's exploitation was allowed to continue for so long.

WCSAP Legislative Session in Review Policy Update, June 2021

Supporting survivors of sexual assault (ESHB 1109)
Passed, effective 4/26/2021

This bill requires the Office of the Attorney General, in consultation with the WA Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), to collect status updates on previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits collected prior to July 24, 2015; requires the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to conduct an annual case review program to review sexual assault investigations and prosecutions for the purposes of improving training and case outcomes; and expands the statutory rights of sexual assault survivors.

The Year of the Pandemic and our Growing Edge Reflections from WCSAP's Advocacy Coordinator

Our resilience, tenacity and hope push us forward in each step we take. As it did for our parents, grandparents, and ancestors before us.

One year later, many family members lost to COVID-19 deaths, and you and I remain. We grieve for our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us and we celebrate their beautiful lives and the fighters they were. One of my sister-in-law's favorite phrases was "faith over fear"; and that is how she lived her life until her last breath. She and my brother passed away at the exact same second in a Yakima Hospital with their daughter by their side while I was in their home with my niece, their 53-year-old special needs, amazing daughter.

WCSAP Responds Violence Targeted at Asian American Women and Communities

In the Atlanta area yesterday, a 21-year-old white man killed eight people, including six Asian American women. The shootings took place at three massage parlors; the shooter has said that he carried out these attacks not because of racism, but because he has a sex addiction. 

It is unclear and unimportant whether or not people can have sexual encounters at those businesses. There may never be a clear way to “prove” that racism was at the heart of these attacks. The assumption that the existence of racism or the presence of sex work need to be proved is in and of itself is problematic. His assertions are preposterous in connection to carrying out these mass murders.

The shootings occurred at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia,” Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen said, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House and a frequent advocate for women and communities of color.