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Snohomish County, life sentence, inmates
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New law clears way for 114 Washington inmates seeking early release

(Associated Press)

A new law is clearing the way for 114 Washington inmates serving life without parole to seek early release.

State passes bill restoring voting rights to felons directly after prison

In the last two weeks, Washington state has seen two inmates serving life without parole under the so-called “Three-Strikes Law” get re-sentenced and released from prison under a new law that prosecutors say was long overdue.

“Last year, you did an important thing by taking Robbery 2 off the list of persistent offenses, something I’ve always advocated,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. “It’s the lowest crime on that list of persistent offenses. It’s the most common and it’s the most racially disproportionate.”

Satterberg, earlier this year, urged the Legislature to pass Senate Bill 5164 to make that change.

Carla Lee, deputy chief of staff at the King County Prosecutor’s Office, worked on the first two cases under the retroactive law. One of those prisoners, Russell Harvey, 60, served nearly 25 years of a sentence of life without parole for second-degree robberies. Lee said he read an emotional statement in court.

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“Stressing just the hardship of having gone through prison, had a hard life and disappointing his mom,” Lee recalled.

Harvey’s mother passed away earlier this year, just before he was released from prison.

This marks the latest bill in a series of laws passed this session aimed at reforming Washington’s criminal justice system. That includes HB 1090, which effectively bans for-profit detention centers statewide, and HB 1078, which makes it so that former felons are eligible to vote the moment they are no longer incarcerated.

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