Stanford-sponsored bills on DOC visitation, international medical graduates pass Senate

Sen. Derek Stanford

The Washington State Senate Tuesday passed two pieces of legislation sponsored by 1st District Sen. Derek Stanford — one that would increase access by family members to those incarcerated in correctional facilities and the other that would reduce barriers for international medical graduates to practice in Washington state.

The 1st District includes Mountlake Terrace and Brier.

Senate Bill 6476 would expand extended family visitation access to more family members of individuals who are incarcerated and would require transparency in Department of Corrections contracts for telecommunication services to prevent exploitative pricing.

In addition, the bill would update eligibility requirements for incarcerated people to be considered “indigent” so they can receive more help from their families to pay for things like commissary goods and phone calls.

“Maintaining connections between people experiencing incarceration and their families is essential to fostering good behavior, rehabilitation, and a reduction in recidivism,” said Stanford. “This bill will help aunts, uncles, and adoptive parents to more easily visit with loved ones who are incarcerated.

“It’s important to make sure the lines of communication are open and reduce the financial barriers to maintaining family ties. These families already bear significant costs stemming from incarceration. Increasing transparency will protect them from excessive or exploitative pricing.”

The other Stanford-sposored measure, Senate Bill 6551, is based on recommendations from the International Medical Graduates Work Group, established by the legislature last year and including experts from state medical schools, hospitals and the Department of Health. SB 6551 addresses professional barriers for medical providers who graduate from institutions outside the U.S. and Canada.

“There are many highly qualified medical professionals in our state who are refugees or immigrants and who are currently unable to work in their profession,” said Stanford. “By eliminating barriers for these providers to practice their professions, we can ensure immigrants and refugees know they are welcome to participate fully in our communities while also addressing public health challenges in our state. We have a shortage of physicians, a lack of access to culturally competent care, and a need for access to quality care for vulnerable communities. We can address these challenges while keeping high standards with the oversight of the Washington Medical Commission.”

Both bills now move to the House for consideration.

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