Washington State is re-thinking its three-strikes laws, particularly for non-violent offenders. Gov. Chris Gregoire was the first Governor in the country to grant clemency to a three-striker earlier this year, and has since added two more to the list.
Fifteen years after voters and legislatures across the country began embracing the three-strikes concept, many states apply those laws more sparingly. Prosecutors and judges often use the discretion provided them to avoid charging a defendant whose past consists of minor robberies or assault convictions with a third-strike offense. Now Washington is taking the extra step of reviewing the cases of some nonviolent three-strikes prisoners and moving to release those, like Dozier, who probably would not face such a severe punishment today.
The Sentencing Project recently released a report on the growing number of inmates serving life sentences. 140,000, or 1 in 11 inmates, are serving life in federal and state prisons. The racial disparity is glaring:[More...]
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Meet Steven Dozier. He's the first inmate in Washington State serving a three-strikes sentence who has been granted clemency and released.
He's being closely monitored by many, including the District Attorney's office that supported his release.
Dozier spends his days pounding the streets — visiting politicians, community centers and school-district offices in search of an opportunity to share his story with elementary and junior-high-school children who are on the verge of falling into trouble.
"I'm tired of seeing them kids coming to prison. They need to learn from me and other people about our mistakes. We can contribute to them," Dozier said. "Once the kids get on the streets, it's hard to pull them off the streets. I'm looking at the prevention."
His release is also of benefit to Washington taxpayers. It costs $37,000 a year to house inmates. It sounds like King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg gets it: [More...]
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