I spoke with Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, for an “Off the Set” interview about what issues to expect next year in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.
Kline said his top priority is tougher juvenile gun laws. One proposal would send juveniles to detention for 10 days the first time they’re convicted of gun possession, and a second offense would earn them a 15-week stay.
Kline also wants to make it a gross misdemeanor if an adult allows a child under the age of 14 access to a firearm. The penalty would increase to a felony if any harm came from that gun.
Kline said he believes “this could be the year” that the state abolishes the death penalty, riding the same wave of support that legalized same-sex marriage and marijuana.
“Something is going on here,” Kline said. “It could be the sleeper of the year.”
Capital punishment has been on the books in Washington state since 1981. An effort last session to abolish the death penalty didn’t make it out of committee. Kline said he believes there’s popular support for ending capital punishment, but there’s no organized effort to make it happen.
Kline said he’s also planning to join forces with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to propose reforms to the state’s “Three Strikes” law.
“California put a dent in Three Strikes,” Kline said, referring to an initiative passed by California voters last month that revised law so that the third offense must be “serious or violent,” rather than crimes like shoplifting.
Kline said his proposal would allow a rehearing for people whose convictions are all Class B felonies, which are often crimes committed without weapons. Class A felonies include offenses like rape and murder, while Class B felonies include assault and robbery in the second degree.
Kline said those offenders would still serve between 15-20 years, and the law would only affect a “small sliver” of people serving life sentences in Washington state.