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Disagrees With Attorney's Article

I would like to make some observations about the article titled ".100 hearings; Opinions of an Attorney" by Barbetta Ralphs, Attorney. I believe I am qualified [to discuss her article] because I have served a total of over eleven years on parole. It is very significant that Ms. Ralphs would take the time and care to write a concerned article which contains a number of constructive and helpful suggestions for prisoners who have to deal with the I.S.R.B. [parole board] and the [RCW 9.95].100 hearings. I have met many prisoners who had no idea what to do or say, or how to organize some kind of presentation when going before the board. Then, after the hearing, all they could say was, "Man, I got screwed!" Part of the reason why people don't know how to act in their own best interests is due to the Unrealistic Expectation Propaganda which abounds on both sides of the fence in the criminal justice system. Some of this shows up in Ms. Ralph's article where she says, " other strong factor which mitigates against release, and this in the nature of what one inmates does to another, namely: many of the persons who are or have been released do not believe they need to follow the 'rules' set forth for them while on parole." To analyze this idea we need to ask a couple of questions: When did criminal law change from the precept that each case stands on its own merit to the idea that one case affects thousands of others? When did the process of law change from comparing the facts with the law and making a ruling, to public voting in the news media? Taking this "strong factor" to its logical extreme, we could just do away with courts and have each prisoner brought before the legislature, to vote on guilt and the length of sentence. Republican prisoners could be paroled by the legislature and vetoed back to prison by a democratic governor. Truly, no parolee ever sat down and reasoned with himself; hey, I'm in a bad mood so I think I'll just mess up two thousand prisoners' release dates and just not report to my parole officer. So the board relies on the unfortunate acts of a few to justify increasing the sentences of many who sit around in prison, not doing any crimes and hoping for release some time before social security eligibility. It is highly unlikely that sending the rest of the herd to a slaughterhouse would have any effect on the bull in the china shop.

D.H., Shelton, WA

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