20 People in King County are Serving a 3 Strikes Life Sentence — for A Crime No Longer Considered A Strike Offense
On February 1, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg testified in support of Senate Bill 5164, which would require the resentencing of people serving a three-strikes, life-without-parole sentence where second-degree robbery is included as a strike.
Last year, state lawmakers removed second-degree robbery from the list of three strikes offenses. It was the lowest crime on the list of persistent offenses. Despite the fact that second degree robbery is no longer counted as a strike under Washington law, there are 20 people serving a life sentence right now in King County due to such a conviction.
Prosecutor Satterberg supports resentencing these 20 individuals and the 64 people statewide who are serving life sentences with second-degree robbery as one of their three strikes.
Prosecutor Satterberg not only spoke on behalf of our office, but also on behalf of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. His full remarks are below:
Good morning Mr. Chair, and good morning to all members of the Committee. I’m Dan Satterberg, I’m the Prosecuting Attorney for King County. I’m also appearing this morning on behalf of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
We support this bill, and we urge you to pass 5164. You know, the Legislature has the power and the duty to design a criminal sentencing and punishment scheme, and also the power and duty to reform that when it is no longer serving the interest of justice.
Last year, you did an important thing by taking Robbery 2 off of the list of persistent offenses. That’s something I’ve always advocated for — it’s really the lowest crime on that list of persistent offenses, it’s the most common, and it’s the most racially disproportionate — and it was time for it to go.
And now, the lack of retroactivity has left 64 people — 20 of them from King County — still with a life sentence even though the State no longer considers one of their strikes to be a strike. Now if that seems wrong to you, that’s because it is — and this is the way to fix it.
There isn’t a parole system; this isn’t kind of case to go before the clemency board because the clemency board can’t impose a new sentence, it can just recommend something for the Governor. So the only way to give a standard range sentence in these cases is to take it back to the county, take it back to the Superior Court where that sentence was issued for a persistent offense, and recalculate the standard range.
Now in my office, we have 20 such cases, and because of SB 6164 bill I’ve got a Resentencing Unit and they are focused these cases first, because this seems to me to be the most urgent. So this is something that’s consistent with what we want to do, everybody who has been sentenced under persistent offense with a Robbery 2 needs to get a standard range sentence and serve that. Not everyone is going to get out right away, some people are going to have more time to do, but everyone will get a proper legal standard range sentence. So I urge your support.