Sunday, April 11, 2021
I just wanted to share some great news about one of the bills (SB 5164) that our state’s (Washington) Congress passed and how it affected a man I know called “All Day,” who happens to live directly above me.
People call him All Day because he is doing Life Without Parole (LWOP). He’s a three-striker, meaning if you commit three different strikable crimes/offenses then Washington state law says you’re never leaving this place. All Day is a 46 y/o black man, and he’s been locked up for about 14 years.
Well, I was trying to help All Day convince the Seattle Clemency Project to take up his case for clemency with Governor Jay Inslee but they kept rejecting his case saying he’s not a viable candidate at this time. Clemency is basically a conditional pardoning of someone by the Governor.
One of All Day’s past crimes was a second degree robbery, which the state Congress had previously removed as a strikeable offense but didn’t allow it to apply to guys already in prison who were time-barred. This was grossly unfair.
But recently, in light of racial and social equity movements, Congress decided to take up the issue again. All Day, who’s not keen on law (obviously) and looks at it skeptically, wasn’t even aware that Congress was working on passing SB 5164 to fully remove second degree robbery from the strikeable offense list – and make it apply retroactively.
I caught up with All Day to let him know about SB 5164. Having been let down many times before, he wasn’t too hopeful. But I told him I’ll track the bill for him and monitor its progress through both chambers of Congress. He was appreciative.
To the surprise of several prisoners, Congress recently passed SB 5164 and made it apply retroactively to All Day and others also charged with second degree robbery! I showed All Day the bill and explained it to him, and then I found another guy and worked with him to figure out All Day’s offender score, which determines how much time he’d have to serve based on a set of sentencing grid calculations.
We figured out that All Day will actually be going home when he’s resentenced according to the Bill, i.e., when it’s signed into law by Governor Inslee and goes into effect 90 days thereafter.
The prosecutor will then petition the court to bring All Day into court to adjust his crime and then resentence him to a period of time that is shorter than the amount of time he has already served.
In short (pun intended), All Day will be a free man soon!
I, too, was waiting on a law to pass that could have resulted in my early release, as well as many others. But unfortunately it didn’t get passed out of the House Appropriations Committee.
Nonetheless, I’ve served the bulk of my sentence and will be released next April. I just feel bad that there are so many others who really needed HB 1282 to pass for them.
That’s the nature of our broken criminal justice system. Sometimes it works to the advantage of some, and to the disadvantage of others. But the only time it works is when good people stand up and stick their necks out to ensure justice and equity for others.
For now, I’m just glad that Dwight Russ no longer has to be referred to as All Day, which I’m sure you agree was such an ill-fitting nickname.