The state of Washington is proving to be one of the more progressive states in the country. Along with Colorado legalized the use of marijuana for recreation, but yesterday, the state’s House unanimously passed House Bill 1148 that gives leniency to people who are sentenced for crimes while using a gun, such as armed robbery.
The courts in Washington currently handle armed crimes under the a 1995 initiative called “Hard Time For Armed Crime.” It requires mandatory sentence enhancements for crimes involving guns. Now judges don’t necessarily have to give convicts the mandatory 18 months to five year sentence for each gun-related felony an individual is convicted of. Now, if the judge deems that time “clearly excessive,” they have the freedom to impose lesser sentences.
An example of a case that could be influenced by HB1148 is that of Jacob Korum, a stick-up kid convicted for 30 crimes involving robbing drug dealers in 2001. Though he and four accomplices didn’t kill anybody during their spree of jacking, under “Hard Time For Armed Crime,” he was sentenced to 100 years and eight months in prison. Though his sentence has been drastically reduced after some charges were dropped, state officials feel that the initial sentence was excessive.
For example, if a person robs five different people at gunpoint, “Hard Time For Armed Crime” requires that enhancements be imposed for each person he/she robbed. Korum robbed hit the same victims multiple times, but enhancements were placed on each crime separately.
This is a big move forward in criminal justice reform. Will more states follow suit? Stay tuned.