Consistent with our goals for supporting opportunities for individuals convicted of a crime to redeem themselves and rejoin communities they were taken from after committing a crime, we are asking you to contact your state Representatives and encourage them to support House Bill 1338 to provide a reevaluation for Juvenile Prisoners sentenced to long incarceration. This bill, HB 1338:
- Eliminates the sentence of life without parole for juveniles and replaces it with a maximum sentence of 35 years.
- Allows juveniles sentenced to a term of incarceration of 20 years or more to petition the sentencing court for early release after serving 20 years of confinement. Release is denied if the court determines that the person will commit new violent criminal law violations if released.
- Supports use of probation and parole (community custody).
- Provides victims with an opportunity to participate in the hearing used to determine whether to release.
- Provides for juveniles convicted to aggravated murder to be sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of a minimum of 20 years, and no more than 35 years.
1. The United States Supreme Court in 2012 ruled unconstitutional a sentencing scheme that imposes a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for juveniles.
- Recent advances in the study of brain development find that the human brain is not fully developed until about age 25, so that judgment may be much better once a prisoner — who offended as a juvenile — reaches adulthood. Reevaluation of their prospects to lead a safe and productive life is warranted, even after they have committed a murder.
3. HB 1338 provides for reevaluation after 20 years. This is much sooner than SB 5064, which is supported by prosecutors and requires imprisonment for a minimum of 30 years before reevaluation and allows life imprisonment.
Please ask your state legislators to support HB 1338, which permits a reevaluation of juveniles under long incarceration. The bill is available at: (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1338&year=2013). HB 1338 was passed by the House Public Safety Committee on February 14 with a 6 to 5 vote, receiving affirmative votes from Reps. Goodman, Roberts, Appleton, Moscoso, Pettigrew, and Takko. The prime sponsor is Rep. Mary Helen Roberts.
Legislators’ email addresses are in the form: firstname.lastname@example.org, so, for example, Rep. Mary Helen Roberts is email@example.com. To find the names of your current legislators (several are new following the elections last November and you may be in a new legislative district due to redistricting), go to the leg.wa.gov website (http://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx), select Find Your Legislator, and enter your street address.
There is also a new feature this year on the leg.wa.gov website for sending comments about a particular bill to your legislators. On the leg.wa.gov site, choose Bill Information and then enter the bill number and Search. When the window for that bill appears, choose Comment on this Bill. You will need to register with a password the first time you use this feature.
Thanks for all you do.
Steven Aldrich, Legislative Advocate and Policy Analyst
FCWPP Legislative Committee