Priority Issues

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Pioneer advocates for a range of issues that remove barriers and increase opportunities for the people we serve. We believe that people have the ability to change and that a criminal record should not be a life sentence that bars people from becoming productive members of our communities. Read about what we advocate for below, and catch up on a few Myths and Facts surrounding formerly incarcerated individuals.

Reentry Council – Governor Jay Inslee recently appointed members to the newly created Washington Statewide Reentry Council and the Council held its first meeting July 12, 2016. The Council will promote successful reentry programs for formerly incarcerated individuals and increase public safety for all Washingtonians.

In early 2016, the Reentry Council was created when the Washington State legislature passed House Bill 2791. Pioneer worked closely with Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle) and members of the faith community last year to pass the bill.

The current revolving door back into the prison system is not working and it is costing us hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” said Karen Lee, CEO of Pioneer Human Services and a member of the Reentry Council. “This council invests in solutions. It brings together government agencies, leaders in the faith community, social service organizations and formerly incarcerated individuals to work together to help people change their lives.”

The Council will review, study, and make policy and funding recommendations to the Legislature and the Governor on issues relating to reentry and reintegration of offenders. Additionally, the Council will establish and manage programs and initiatives related to offenders' successful reentry and reintegration.

Employment Opportunities – We support local, state and federal proposals to reduce barriers to employment for people with criminal histories. This includes:

  • Ban the box” initiatives that would remove questions about criminal history from initial job applications.
  • Proposals to remove blanket exclusions for licensing and certifications due to criminal records.
  • Measures that support restoration of rights for individuals who have complied with release requirements and made an effort to improve themselves.

Housing Access – We endorse efforts to increase housing availability for people with criminal histories, including standardization of screening criteria, education of landlords to reduce stigma, and changes to public housing policies and practices. No one should be forced into homelessness or put their family’s housing stability at risk simply because they have a record.

Evidence-based Treatment – We are committed to the principle that every person is unique and that their treatment planning should address their specific needs. That is why we promote use of the risk-need-responsivity model of rehabilitation in our own work and support efforts to align publicly funded services to this effective treatment model. 

Research - Read studies and reports related to or specifically about the programs and services offered by Pioneer.