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AGO 1955 No. 67 - April 25, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

STATE TRAINING SCHOOL ‑- STATE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS ‑- SUPERINTENDENTS ‑- POWERS ‑- DISCHARGE OR REFUSAL TO ADMIT INMATES

Superintendent for state school for girls has no authority to discharge inmate for incorrigibility, but superintendent of state training school may do so upon concurrence of division of children and youth services, department of public institutions.  Superintendent of girls school cannot refuse to admit girl committed thereto, but may return her to committing court under RCW 72.20.070.  Superintendent of state training school cannot refuse to admit, but may return in compliance with RCW 72.16.080.  On return, committing court may modify or set aside order of commitment; if commitment was on conviction of crime, sentence may either be imposed or suspended.

                                                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   April 25, 1955

Honorable Arthur Hawman
Prosecuting Attorney
Walla Walla County
409 Drumheller Building
Walla Walla, Washington                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 67


Attention  !ttAurel M. Kelly

            Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Sir:

            In your recent letter you have requested our opinion on several questions, which you state as follows:

            "1. Does the Superintendent of the State School for Girls have the authority to discharge an inmate thereof as incorrigible?  If so, under what circumstances?

            "2. Does the Superintendent of the State Training School for Boys have the authority to discharge an inmate thereof as incorrigible?  If so, under what  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] circumstances?

            "3. Does the Superintendent of the State School for Girls have the authority to refuse to receive or admit a girl committed to that school by a Court of competent jurisdiction, other than as provided in RCW 72.20.070?  If so, what circumstances justify such refusal?

            "4. Does the Superintendent of the State Training School for Boys have the authority to refuse to receive or admit a boy committed to that school by a Court of competent jurisdiction?  If so, what circumstances justify such refusal?

            "5. If the above questions are answered in the affirmative, must the superintendent return the child to the committing Court?

            "6. If the above questions are answered in the affirmative, what is the authority of the Superior Court which had previously committed such child, in thereafter disposing of such child, where the child was originally committed as:

            "(a) A dependent child

"(b) A delinquent child

"(c) Having committed a crime

            "7. Are the answers given in (6) altered by the sex of the child?"

            Our opinion on your several questions may be summarized briefly as follows:

            1. No; except insofar as an incorrigible child may come within the provisions of RCW 72.20.070.

            2. Yes.

            3. No.

            4. No.

            5. Yes.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            6. (a) Court may modify order of commitment under RCW 13.04.150, Juvenile Court, committing a dependent child to another facility or to the care or guardianship of a probation officer.

            (b) Same as above.

            (c) Upon return from the state school the child is returned to the custody of the court and sentence upon the conviction of crime may be imposed, or suspended; in this regard seeIn re Mason, 3 Wash. 609.

            7. No.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            At the outset it should be realized that both the State School for Girls and the Washington State Training School are not penal institutions, nor prisons, but are state schools.  The children committed or admitted to the schools are not sent there for punishment, but for education and rehabilitation; the theory of the state being that as to them and society, it is better that they be taught not to do wrong in the future than to be punished for wrongful deeds of the past.

            1. The Superintendent of the State School for Girls does not have the authority to discharge a girl committed to the school upon the sole fact that such girl is incorrigible.

            It is an elementary principle of law that any agency, commission, department, state institution, or a municipal corporation, which has been created by an act of the State Legislature, has only that authority which the Legislature has granted expressly by statute, or which is necessarily implied from the powers expressly granted by statute.  The statutes relating to the administration of State School for Girls do not grant the Superintendent of that institution authority to discharge a girl committed to the institution, as an incorrigible.

            The only statutes bearing upon the subject of parole and discharge from the State School for Girls state in part as follows:

            "72.20.050.  The department, acting with the superintendent, shall, under a system of marks, or otherwise, fix upon a uniform plan by which girls may be paroled or discharged from the  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] school, which system shall be subject to revision from time to time.  Each girl shall be credited for personal demeanor, diligence in labor or study, and for the results accomplished, and charged for derelictions, negligence, or offense.  The standing of each girl shall be made known to her as often as once a month."

            "72.20.060.  Every girl shall be entitled to trial on parole before reaching the age of twenty years, such parole to continue for at least one year unless violated.  * * *"

            "43.19.370.  The division of children and youth services shall establish, maintain, operate and administer a comprehensive program for the custody, care, education, treatment, instruction, guidance, control and rehabilitation of all persons who may be committed or admitted to institutions, schools, or other facilities controlled and operated by the division and in order to accomplish these purposes, the powers and duties of the supervisor of the division of children and youth services shall include the following:

            * * *

            "(4) The supervision of parole, discharge, or other release, and the postinstitutional placement of all persons committed to the Washington State Training School and the State School for Girls, or such as may be assigned, paroled, or transferred therefrom to other facilities operated by the division.  The State Training School and the State School for Girls are hereby designated as 'close security' institutions to which shall be given the custody of children with the most serious behavior problems."

            However, it is to be noted that RCW 72.20.070 provides that the Superintendent of the State School for Girls may return any girl committed to that  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] institution "who is not of sound mind, or who is subject to epileptic or other fits, or is not possessed of that degree of bodily health which should render her a fit subject for the discipline of the school."

            It is conceivable that a girl committed to the state school might well be incorrigible, or unmanageable, and not eligible for admission to the school by reason of one of the disabilities restricting her as a subject for admission, as set forth in RCW 72.20.070.

            2. The Superintendent of the Washington State Training School may return a child to the committing court if, after investigation, it is found by the Division of Children & Youth Services, that such inmate of the school is incorrigible, unmanageable, or detrimental to the best interest of the school.  This authority is found at RCW 72.16.080 (Sec. 17, Page 276, Laws of 1890), which reads as follows:

            "The department shall investigate all complaints made against the superintendent, or any employee of the school, and for good and sufficient reason remove the person against whom such complaint was made.  The department shall further investigate all charges made by the superintendent against any inmate or inmates of the school, and if, after investigation of such charges, any inmate of the school is found incorrigible, unmanageable, or detrimental to the best interest of the school, such inmate shall be returned to the court which made the commitment."

            The authority vested in the Superintendent and the Division of Children and Youth Services cannot have the effect of discharging the child returned to the committing court from the order of commitment, or judgment, but is merely a discharge from the state school.

            3. The Superintendent of the State School for Girls does not have the authority to refuse to receive or admit a girl committed to that school by a court of competent jurisdiction, other than as provided in RCW 72.20.070.  In this respect see (1) above.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 6]]

            4. The Superintendent of the Washington State Training School does not have the authority to refuse to receive or admit a boy committed to such school by a court of competent jurisdiction.  But, the Superintendent may return a boy committed to the school to the committing court, if such boy is found to be incorrigible under the provisions of RCW 72.16.080.  See (1) above.

            5. In all of the instances discussed under Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 above, the Superintendents of the respective schools must return the child to the committing court.

            6. (a) A juvenile court which has committed a dependent or delinquent child to either the State Training School or the State School for Girls, has the statutory authority to change, modify, or set aside any order in the case of either a dependent or delinquent child.  This authority is found at RCW 13.04.150.

            In the case of a child returned from the State Training School or the State School for Girls under the circumstances discussed above, the court, under the authority of the above‑cited section, could then proceed to commit the child to the care and custody of another detention facility, to the care and guardianship of a probation officer for placement in a suitable family home, or make such other provisions as the circumstances may seem to require.

            In arriving at this conclusion, we are cognizant of the fact that RCW 13.08.040, as derived from Section 6, Chapter 157, Laws of 1913, states in substance that an order committing a girl to the State School for Girls as a delinquent child shall not be subject to modification or revocation.  It is apparent that RCW 72.20.070 and RCW 13.08.040 are in direct conflict, and if RCW 13.08.040 were given a strict construction, it would render RCW 72.20.070 almost completely ineffective.  We do not feel that the Legislature intended that result.  In out opinion, the familiar rule of statutory construction, that i possible conflicting statutes will be so interpreted as to make them both effective, is applicable here.  Accordingly, it is our opinion that RCW 72.20.070 is an exception to RCW 13.08.040, and the court is an instance arising out of RCW 72.20.070 may change, modify, or vacate its order of commitment.

            6. (b) Same as above.

            6. (c) Upon return from state school the child is returned to the custody of the court and sentence upon the conviction of crime may be imposed, or suspended; in this regard seeIn re Mason, 3 Wash. 609.

            7. The conclusions arrived at in (6) above are applicable to both ways and girls committed to the respective institutions.

Very truly yours.

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


STEPHEN C. WAY
Assistant Attorney General

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