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Habitual Criminal Case Update

You may recall that last year the Legislature passed SHE 1457 (now in RCW 9.95.013) which directed the Board to review all habitual criminal minimum terms and to apply SRA guideline ranges to them. You may also know that - as usual - the Board essentially ignored the law and re-determined habitual criminal minimum terms in only five (5) of the seventy (70) cases it reviewed.

In response, we organized an effort to challenge the Board's actions in the courts. Two (2) personal restraint petitions (PRP) were filed in the State Supreme Court to challenge the board's entire 1457 review process. However, the Supreme Court staff inaccurately reported to the court that the two petitions raised issues that only affected a small group of people and hence the two petitions were transferred to Division III of the Court of Appeals.

Right after the transfer, three (3) other prisoners filed personal restraint petitions in the State Supreme Court, and others started filing in the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court got the message and has now decided to hear the cases before it.

Evergreen Legal Services Attorneys John Midgley, Pat Arthur, and Bob Stalker represent us in the consolidated actions in the Supreme Court; briefs have been filed on though oral argument hasn't yet been set, we expect a decision next spring.

The Board says SKB 1457 doesn't limit its powers, and thus it doesn't have to set habitual criminal minimum terms within SRA guideline ranges. Prisoners are asking the court to order the Board to re-review all habitual criminal minimum terms and set them within the guideline ranges as SHE 1457 directs.

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