In re PRP Raymond Williams – DIVII

Court: Washington Court of Appeals: Division II
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Case Description: Raymond Williams is serving a life without parole sentence as a persistent offender under the Persistent Offender Accountability Act (POAA or “the Act”) also called the “three strikes law,” based in part on a crime he committed at age 16.  Mr. Williams challenges his POAA sentence entered in 2008 following his third “strike.”  Mr. Williams’ first strike, burglary in the first degree, occurred when he was 16 years old and waived a decline hearing, resulting in transfer to adult court. Mr. Williams argues that the 8th Amendment and Article I, section 14 of the Washington Constitution categorically bar use of a strike offense committed as a child to support a life without parole sentence under the POAA, an issue explicitly left open in State v. Moretti, ___ Wn.2d ___, 446 P.3d 609, 614 n. 5 (2019).

Amicus Description: Amici argue that the Persistent Offender Accountability Act (“the Act”), by including in predicate offenses crimes committed by children, is at odds with what we know about juveniles and criminal culpability, and fails to address the original goals of the Act, passed in 1993 during a time when “get tough on crime” attitude permeated the national psyche.  The Act was intended to segregate those who commit repeat serious offenses, but failed to consider what we know now of the mitigating circumstances of youth or the potential for rehabilitation of youth who commit serious crimes. By requiring a life sentence for crimes committed by a child and declined to adult court, the Act violates the US and Washington Constitutions.