August 7, 2019

I have been heartened by the commitment of state legislators, criminal justice practitioners, and law enforcement to update our laws and our system of policies, practices, and procedures to take into account the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama. At a recent work session held in the Senate Human Services, Reentry and Rehabilitation Committee, we learned about the Board’s the outcomes and implementation of the 2014 “Miller fix” law in Washington State.

Before the Miller fix, juveniles convicted as adults of aggravated murder received mandatory life sentences without parole. Under the fix, children under 16 at the time of their crime receive a sentence of 25 years to life, and are given an opportunity for release after they have served 25 years. In 2018, the State Supreme Court ruled that trial courts also cannot sentence 16- and 17-year-old youths to life without parole.

Legislation and Supreme Court decisions happen, but the implementation of justice happens one hearing at a time. One of those hearings is happening today at the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board. Below is my letter in support of an individual who was sentenced as a youth prior to the Miller fix.