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Parole Board Action Alert

[The following notice was sent to us by a prisoner activist at Walla Walla.]

If you have been subjected t a parole revocation or ".100" hearing in the last couple of years, you may want to do something about the outcome. If so, read on...

Currently, the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (Board) is being investigated. This investigation was initiated by citizens' groups (such as the Friends of Diane, the folks who organized after Diane [Ballasiotes] was killed in Pioneer Square by a work release prisoner). The Citizens' Groups have asked the Governor's Office to investigate the Board to see why prisoners are being released before their maximum term expires!

The impact of the citizens' groups is already being felt. The pressure the Board is feeling from the various groups' claim that the Board is "soft on crime" has turned into longer minimum terms for prisoners, even on petty violations. What is happening out there is having an effect on you in here. But something can be done about it.

The [Governor's] investigator is trying to see both sides of the issue. He is looking for examples of where the Board released prisoners early (good luck at finding any of those), and he wants to look at cases where the Board acted unreasonably. His report to the Legislature will reflect what he finds. And the Legislature will most likely react to his report with new laws. Simply put, if the investigator finds that the Board is releasing "dangerous and violent" prisoners into the community early, as the citizens' groups claim, new laws will be passed which give the board wider authority to revoke paroles and to hold people in prison for longer periods of time. You can bet on that happening.

However, if the investigator reports that the Board is over-reacting to public pressure and is handing out unreasonable terms to people who are not a danger to the public, then likely as not the Legislature will pass new laws next year that will limit the Board's authority to hand out arbitrary minimum terms at parole revocation and .100 hearings.

In order to get our side of the story heard, attorneys are collecting information to present to the investigator. Your help is required in collecting this information. If you have had a parole revocation or .100 hearing within the last three years, please send you paperwork (Board's decision) and other requested information to: Patricia J. Arthur, Attorney at Law, suite 301, 101 Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98104. She will use your paperwork to show the investigator that the Board is anything but soft on crime, and that it is acting arbitrarily.

Ms. Arthur is not looking to take on individual cases. It is understood that prisoners are getting screwed around and that they need legal assistance. But if all this time and energy is spent working on a few select cases, only those few individuals would benefit. So the work being don will focus on those things that will help us get everyone working together on these issues which (if done right) in the end will help us all.

Please include the following information and documents in you letter to Ms. Arthur: 1) your age; 2) total time spent in prison in your life; 3) a list of all your conviction in Washington and elsewhere; 4) whether you had a parole revocation or .100 hearing or both; 5) what happened at your hearing, i.e., why the hearing was held, allegations against you at the hearing, what the Board decided; 6) how much time have you served prior to the .100 hearing how much time have you served on parole, how much more time the Board gave you; 7) any other information you believe will be helpful, such as whether you filed any actions challenging the Board results, etc.; and 8) all of you paperwork, including Board decisions and petitions you filed in the courts.

You will also have to give Ms. Arthur written approval to hand you paperwork over to the investigator. Because attorneys are not allowed to let others examine your personal legal papers, Ms. Arthur will not do so unless you tell her in writing that it is okay.

Lastly, be sure to ask Ms. Arthur to represent you views to the legislature. It may be that she will want to lobby the lawmakers for legislation limiting the Boards authority. She can only do that on your behalf if you ask her to.

Take a few minutes and 75 cents worth of stamps to get this done. And please encourage others to do the same. People out there are willing to help you help yourself, but you have to make the first move. Let's push on this together.

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