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AGO 1953 No. 160 - October 30, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

AUTHORITY OF BOARD OF PRISON TERMS AND PAROLES TO GRANT PROVISIONAL DISCHARGE TO A PAROLEE UNDER RCW 9.95.115.

Board of Prison Terms and Paroles may only grant provisional discharge from parole to a parolee sentenced for a crime providing mandatory life sentence in applying RCW 9.95.115.  Parole of those prisoners, other than those sentenced under mandatory life sentence is governed by RCW 9.95.056.

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                                                                October 30, 1953

Honorable William C. Goodloe
Senator, Thirty-Second District
1511 Smith Tower
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                     Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 160

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of October 19, 1953, in which you request the opinion of our office as to (1) whether the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles may grant a provisional discharge from supervision to a parolee, under RCW 9.95.115, convicted of a crime for which mandatory life sentence is imposed; (2) whether the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles may distinguish between RCW 9.95.115 parolees and others to award freedom to one class not available to others.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            In answer to the first interrogatory it is our opinion that the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles may apply RCW 9.95.115 only to that class of inmates serving sentence "under a mandatory life sentence," and may adopt rules and regulations for provisional discharge from supervision to such a parolee under said act.

            Answering the second interrogatory, it is our opinion that the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles within RCW 9.95.115 must distinguish between parolees serving "under a mandatory life sentence" and those serving any other sentence.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            May we first point out what is believed to be a typographical error in your letter of October 19, 1953, in which you set out RCW 9.95.015 as Senate Bill 62, Laws of 1951.  We find Senate Bill 62, set forth as section 1, chapter 238, Laws of 1951, or as RCW 9.95.115.

            The statute which we believe you have reference to is set forth as follows:

            "Parole of life term prisoners.  The board of prison terms and paroles is hereby granted authority to parole any person sentenced to the penitentiary or the reformatory, under a mandatory life sentence, who has been continuously confined therein for a period of twenty consecutive years less earned good time:  Provided, The superintendent of the penitentiary or the reformatory, as the case may be, certifies to the board of prison terms and paroles that such person's conduct and work have been meritorious, and based thereon, recommends parole for such person:  Provided, That no such person shall be released under parole who is found to be a sexual psychopath under the provisions of and as defined by chapter 71.12 RCW."

            We have previously held in an opinion addressed to Dr. Henry H. Ness, Chairman of the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles dated May 4, 1953 [[AGO 53-55-27]], that the foregoing statute is an extension of, rather than a limitation upon, the parole jurisdiction of the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles. The foregoing statute is limited in application to only those inmates "sentenced to the penitentiary or the reformatory, under a mandatory life sentence."

            The applicable statute governing paroles of inmates other than those sentenced under a mandatory life sentence is RCW 9.95.056 which is not inconsistent with RCW 9.95.115.

            Therefore, in conclusion, there is explicit restriction upon the right of the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles in applying RCW 9.95.115 to a parolee other than those under a mandatory life sentence and other parolees are governed by RCW 9.95.056.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We hope that the foregoing answers your query in full.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

DONALD E. WATSON
Assistant Attorney General

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