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AGO 1951 No. 182 - November 27, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


When an inmate is transferred from the penitentiary to the reformatory or from the reformatory to the penitentiary, the board's jurisdiction over the prisoner relative to reducing the minimum term is dependent upon the original judgment and sentence.

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                                                               November 27, 1951

Board of Prison Terms & Paroles
614 County City Building
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 182

Attention:  Dr. Henry H. Ness, Chairman

Dear Dr. Ness:

            Receipt is hereby acknowledged of your letter dated October 4, 1951, asking our opinion on the following question:

            "When a convicted person is sentenced to the State Penitentiary and, before commitment or afterwards, is transferred to the reformatory, has this Board authority to reconsider his minimum term under provisions of House Bill 12, after he has served three years in the reformatory, or does his status remain that of a penitentiary prisoner, whose minimum cannot be reconsidered until he has served seven years?"

            We conclude that the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles has no authority to reduce the minimum term under such circumstances.


             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            We assume that House Bill 12, to which you refer, is chapter 92 of the Laws of 1947 (§ 10249-2 Rem. Rev. Stat., 1947 Supp.).  While this section was apparently amended by section 2, chapter 239, Laws of 1951, the amendment makes no material changes and reads as follows:

            "After a person has been confined in the state penitentiary for seven years or in the state reformatory for three years, the superintendent of the penitentiary or of the reformatory, as the case may be, upon his own initiative or at the request of the board of prison terms and paroles shall cause a thorough analysis and report of the convicted person's prospects for rehabilitation to be made.  If, based thereon, the superintendent so recommends, the board of prison terms and paroles, after such further investigation as it deems necessary, may reconsider its previous determination as to the duration of confinement of the convicted person, and subject to the limitations contained in section 1 of this act, may adjust the duration downward:  Provided, The three‑year period of confinement shall be considered only in those cases wherein the judgment, sentence and commitment shall be to the state reformatory."

            There is no provision in the above section authorizing a reduction of the minimum term by the mere transfer of a prisoner from the reformatory to the penitentiary.  The minimum required under the above provision must be set according to the original sentence and commitment.  When a person is transferred from the penitentiary to the reformatory, or from the reformatory to the penitentiary, the board's jurisdiction over the prisoner is based upon the original judgment and sentence.  Pierce v. Smith, 31 Wash. 52, 195 P. (2d) 112.  Accordingly, a transfer by the board of a prisoner from one institution to another does not alter the minimum term of the prisoner.

            Therefore, in our opinion the board has no authority to reduce the minimum term of an inmate on the basis of a transfer from the penitentiary to the reformatory.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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