In June 2020, a Washington state law took effect that allows prosecutors to pursue new sentences in felony cases. Those who are supportive of the new law say that it can help to alleviate overcrowded prisons and acknowledges the fact that people can change over long periods of time. Supporters also say that it’s an opportunity to reevaluate cases involving youthful offenders who may have been improperly tried as adults.
Releasing rehabilitated individuals can reduce wasteful spending
In the state of Washington, roughly $1.8 trillion is allocated to the state corrections system. Allowing rehabilitated individuals to reenter society can save money while allowing those who are released to contribute to their communities in a more meaningful way.
There is generally no reason to keep sick or elderly people in custody
A person who is too sick to get through the day without the assistance of a machine or caregiver is unlikely to be a threat to society if released. The same is true of someone who has experienced mental or physical decline because of old age. With the passage of SB 6164, it may be easier for criminal defense attorneys to obtain the release of their clients.
Young people shouldn’t necessarily be treated like adults
The Supreme Court has recognized that offenders under the age of 18 may not have the same levels of emotional maturity that an adult does. Therefore, they may not necessarily understand what they are doing when they commit a crime. Ultimately, it may not be fair to keep them in prison for life based on mistakes that they made as teenagers.
What may have seemed like an appropriate sentence in 1980 may not be seen as fair today. Therefore, it’s important that prosecutors have the ability to alter previous sentences in an effort to better serve the community.