Washington Law Review

Comment

Providing a Meaningful Opportunity for Release: A Proposal for Improving Washington's Miller-Fix

June 01, 2020 | 95 Wash. L. Rev. 1053

Abstract: Miller v. Alabama set forth new constitutional requirements that necessitated changes in Washington State’s sentencing law for children. In response, the Washington legislature passed RCW 9.94A.730: a parole statute that presumptively releases children who committed crimes after they have served twenty years. Unless the parole board finds they are more likely than not to commit a future crime if released, the Miller-fix statute requires that eligible petitioners are released. The parole board has wide discretion in determining whether someone is more likely than not to commit a future crime because the statute provides no guidance about how to make this prediction. It is nearly impossible to determine what someone will do in the future, and justifications for continuing to incarcerate an individual convicted of a crime as a child after they have served a twenty-year sentence are limited. Therefore, this Comment argues that the Washington legislature should instead require that sentences for children are twenty years or shorter.

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