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26,500 Settlement Reached in Washington State Over-Detention Suit

A $26,500 settlement was reached in a wrongful imprisonment suit filed against the Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC).

In November 1997, Benjiman Abolafya was convicted of third degree rape and sentenced to 60 months in WDOC custody. After receiving the applicable good-time credit, his earned release date was August 9, 2000. He submitted his first address for release to his sister’s house on April 7, 2000. It was approved June 12, 2000. On July 28, 2000, 11 days prior to his release, WDOC officials denied the address and his release.
When a release address is denied, WDOC officials are required to assist in finding a suitable release address. Abolafya submitted another address on January 24, 2001, which was denied without cause. On March 6, 2001, he submitted a third address, which was again denied due to policy change. Eventually, after several address submissions and denials, Abolafya completed his DOC sentence and was released to the custody of King County due to DOC’s referral for civil commitment proceedings.

After exhausting administrative remedies, Abolafya filed a 42 USC § 1983 suit raising claims of due process, equal protection, cruel and unusual punishment, negligence and false imprisonment due to denial of his release addresses based on a policy that denies all release addresses for those awaiting civil commitment referral.

The case settled on January 5, 2007, with Abolafya receiving $26,500. He was represented by Michael C. Kahrs of Seattle. The results of the civil commitment proceedings were not disclosed. See: Abolafya v. Lehman, USDC, W.D. Washington, Case No.: 05-00662-TSZ.

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Related legal case

Abolafya v. Lehman