I’m a big believer in parole over just locking people up. It incentivizes people to fix their shit in prison. And while it should be tough to get out of prison early for people who’ve committed serious crimes, it should be possible. I’m also not sure 3 strikes legislation, or in Washington’s case initiative, is a particularly helpful in reducing crime. It might make sense to go with something more grounded in crime prevention than sports metaphors. So, I’m glad that the Washington Sentencing Commission is proposing this, even if it has approximately 0 chance of passing the GOP Senate:
Three-strikes offenders serving life in prison without the possibility of parole should get a “second look.” That’s the position of Washington’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission.
It voted Friday to recommend a new review process for these prison inmates.
This is a non-binding proposal to the Washington Legislature. It basically says three-strikes inmates should be able to petition for early release after 20 years behind bars. Aggravated murderers would not qualify. A special “Second Look Review Board” would consider the petitions.
It has been over 2 decades since Washington passed the 3 strikes law. Even with the state becoming more liberal, I don’t imagine it would have much trouble passing again. Certainly, there will be victims who don’t want this sort of thing, and I’m not here to tell them how to feel.
Still, I hope the Legislature takes a good look at giving people another chance. It’s not even just for the criminals who should get another chance, or the cost of keeping reformed people behind bars. It’s as much about the kind of society we want to build. I’d like to build one where people can genuinely get out of prison.