Sie sind auf Seite 1von 47

LIFE WITHOUT

PAROLE SENTENCES
IN WASHINGTON STATE
Dakota Blagg - Madison Brown - Alison Buchanan - Bryce Ellis - Olivia Gee Andreas Hewitt - Zoe Liebeskind - Katelyn Lowthorp - Alexandra Lynch Hannah Schwendeman - Nicholas Scott

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON | LAW, SOCIETIES, AND JUSTICE HONORS THESIS | 2015

INTRODUCTION
US Share of the Worlds Population

US share of world
population (4%)
Rest of the world
(96%)

INTRODUCTION
US Share of the Worlds Prison Population

US share of world
prison population
(22%)
Rest of the world
(78%)

THE RISE OF LIFE


SENTENCES NATIONALLY
Nationally: 1 in 9 prisoners is
serving a life sentence
Washington State: 1 in 6 of
prisoners is serving a life
sentence

OUR REPORT
What follows is an examination of
the EXTENT, CAUSES, AND IMPACT of
life without parole sentences in
Washington State.

ROADMAP

Background: The Abolition of Parole


Research Questions
Methodology
Findings
Policy Recommendations
Further Research
Conclusion

WASHINGTON STATE SENTENCING


REFORM ACT OF 1984

WHY IT WAS WRITTEN


Bipartisan concerns
about variability
Penalties linked to
offense, rather than
offender

EFFECTS
Eliminated
Washingtons
parole board
De-emphasized
rehabilitation

RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Who is serving life without parole sentences in
Washington?

What legal processes lead to these sentences?

What is the cost of life without parole to


Washington State taxpayers?
Should Washington State reinstate a more
comprehensive system of review?

DEFINITIONS
Term

Definition

Official LWOP

Court ordered life without the


possibility of parole sentences

De Facto LWOP

Sentences of 470 months or


longer (approximately 39 years)

(All) LWOP

Official and de facto life


sentences combined

METHODS

QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS
Superior Court Sentencing Data
from 1985-2013
Unit of analysis: sentences not
people
Exception: count of current lifer population

COST ANALYSIS

PAROLE EVALUATION

interviews
_______________________________
systematic review of existing review boards

FINDINGS

Who and Why

Life Sentences Comparison

1 in 5 Washington State
prisoners is serving life

1 in 12 Washington
State prisoners is
serving LWOP

Gender of Washington State Prisoners, LWOP vs. Not LWOP

Of those serving life without


parole sentences in
Washington State, 97% are men

Race of Washington State Residents and Prisoners

Approximately 4% of the
Washington State
population* is black

Approximately 28% of
prisoners serving LWOP in
Washington are black

*Data retrieved from 2013 Washington State Census

Crime of Conviction by Type of Sentence

Official
LWOP

Official LWOPs and Three Strike Convictions by Year

WEAPONS ENHANCEMENTS
Enacted under the 1995
Hard Time For Armed Crime Act

61% of de facto
LWOP cases have
weapons
enhancements

Nearly 20% of
de facto LWOPs
are considered
lifers due to
weapons
enhancements

18 individuals
received a de
facto life sentence
worth of weapons
enhancements

Cases Resolved by Plea vs. Trial, LWOP vs. Not LWOP

Of the felony cases with shorter sentences (not LWOP cases)


only 5% went to trial. Of All LWOP cases, 67% went to trial.

Table 2. Average Sentence Length by Offense and Offender Score


Average Sentence in
Months
Crime

Offender Score

Trial

Plea

Trial Penalty
Mean

First degree
homicide
n=811

309

282

9.6%

350

333

5.1%

371

362

2.5%

77

53

45.3%

135

80

68.8%

148

101*

46.5%*

2*

2*

0.0%*

33.3%

14*

13*

7.7%*

First degree
assault
n =1,754

Second
degree
robbery
n = 35,068

Table 3. Sentence Length Range by Offense and Offender Score


Sentence Length Range in Months
Crime

Offender Score

Trial

Plea

First degree
homicide
n=811

48 900

60 - 640

204 - 700

120 924

210.75 - 494

216 - 510

0 240

0 246

12.03 - 300

11 - 216

20 - 366

1.84 246*

0 24*

0 - 240

0 - 24

0 67.50

0 40*

0 120*

First degree assault


n=1,754

Second degree
robbery
n=35,068

FINDINGS Cost

ELDERLY PRISONERS

Image source: ACLU, At Americas Expense: The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly

THE COST OF ONE LIFE SENTENCE


Average age of incarceration

25 years

Average age of death (nationally) in prison

64 years

Average length of life incarceration

39 years

Average annual cost per non-elderly prisoner


(under 55)

$51,193

Average annual cost per elderly prisoner


(over 55)

$102,386

Average total cost of a life sentence

$2,457,264

LIFE SENTENCE LENGTH

THE COST OF ONE LIFE SENTENCE:


HISTORICALLY
Length

13.3

15

20

35

39

38

40

45

60

64

$0.7

$0.8

$1.0

$2.0

$2.5

$1.8

$1.6

$1.4

$0.4

(in years)

Age of
Release
Cost
(in millions)

Savings
(in millions)

Recidivism Rate and Cost of LWOP for a Typical Prisoner

LIFERS ARE 10 TIMES


LESS LIKELY TO REOFFEND
Recidivism Rate among Lifers and Non-Lifers

Source: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Lifer Parolee Recidivism Report

HUMAN COSTS
European Court of Human Rights: the
absence of parole denies prisoners the
opportunity to transform themselves
Negatively impacts families and
communities of prisoners
Disparate impact on black communities
No incentives to rehabilitate

NOW WHAT?
Our findings indicate that the use of these
extremely long sentences is

fiscally and socially unwise


How do we begin to rectify the situation?

RECOMMENDATIONS

THE INDETERMINATE SENTENCING


REVIEW BOARD TODAY
100 cases
in 2011
vs
5000 cases
in 1980

CCB

PRE

POSSIBLE RELEASE EVALUATION


PROCESS (PREP)

Pre- Release
Rehabilitative
Programming

A holistic
evaluation
process
centering on
the potentially
rehabilitated
individual

Post- Release
Rehabilitative
Programming
and Services

PREP EVALUATION BOARD


7 members
from diverse
backgrounds

Limited
victim
statement

Focus on the
latter 1/3 of
sentence
served

Ability to
grant or deny
release

PRE-RELEASE REHABILITATIVE
PROGRAMMING
Cognitive
therapy

Re-entry
release
planning
Education

POST-RELEASE REHABILITATIVE
PROGRAMMING
Continued
education
Job
opportunities
Housing

BEYOND PREP

Repeal

Repeal

the Persistent
Offender
Accountability
Act

the Hard
Time for
Armed
Crime Act

FUTURE RESEARCH QUESTIONS


Do extremely long sentences affect the
mental health of prisoners?

How can we explain the fact that two-thirds


of the defendants with LWOPS went to trial?
How can we explain substantial variation in
sentencing outcomes?
What is the public perception surrounding
parole in Washington State?

CONCLUSION

It is time for us to

rethink incarceration
and lead a new era of
sentencing reform

Image source: Alternet, Man in Prison for a Murder He Had No Connection to Will Go Free After 23 Years

QUESTIONS