Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Washington: Strike Three. No Mercy?

Stevan Dozier is looking for clemency. His misfortune is that he was convicted 14 years ago under the State's "three strikes and you're out" law. As a consequence, the 46-year old Dozier (a recovering crack addict who used to be all about purse snatching) is looking at a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. If, on the other hand, Mr. Dozier were convicted today, under current practices in Washington, he would be looking at a sentence of about 10 years. A county prosecutor is supporting Dozier's bid for clemency and even encouraged his formal application. On the other hand, the prosecutor who worked on Dozier's case has this to say, "I believe in three strikes, and if anyone deserves it, Mr. Dozier does." See story here.

Dozier has issued the following statement:
I am Stevan Dozier, sentenced to Life Without Parole under the 3 Strikes Law. The crime that I committed is Second Degree Robbery. I am not proud of the fact that 14 years ago I took a purse from a lady. In 1993-94, I was not the same man that I am now. I won't bore you with a story of past substance abuse issues. I will tell you that during the 14 years I have now served, I've learned self worth and self respect as well as how to respect others. I am redeemable. I truly regret the fact that I broke the law. During my incarceration, I have worked and repaid all financial restitution to the present and previous victims of my misbehavior.
Since 1994, many have stepped up to say the crime of Second Degree Robbery does not merit Life Without Parole. Many guards here in the prison say that regularly. The Sentencing Guidelines Commission and several law makers have voiced the need to tune up the 3 Strikes law to ensure that only serious violent individuals receive Life Without Parole under the 3 Strikes Law. Various approaches have been tried only to be met by roadblocks created by misinformation and fear tactics. Yes, the Karl Rove/ George Bush play book is in use in Washington State.
Over the years, I have seen many 3 Strikers give up hope. I have seen rapists, murderers and armed criminals come and go. I've seen serial killers receive plea bargains for the exact sentence that I received for committing a non-armed, non-sexual offense. I know public safety is very important. And I also believe all criminal behavior should be punished in a manner which is proportionate to the offense committed.
The new push of transition re-entry is long overdue. For many years, DOC (Washington Department of Corrections) was all about the warehouse approach. Sending people back to society armed only with a GED and little community resources is a recipe for recidivism.
Prior to my incarceration, I was only concerned with day to day and had no understanding of the political process. Over the years, I have sen lawmakers like Senator Adam Kline stand up and attempt to restore a slight level of proportionality into the sentencing equation. Senator Kline has refused to be deterred by fear tactics and misinformation. Senator Kline has never advocated freeing Murderers or Armed Criminals. At one time, Representative Al O'Brien stood as boldly as Senator Kline. In the last correspondence from Representative O'Brien he stated: "There is not likely to be any change in the 3-Strikes Law until there is a public outcry." My plea and the plea of my loved ones has not been for a "get out of jail free" card.
Our plea has been for lawmakers to restore some level of proportionality into the 3-Strikes sentencing ... For those who are on the fence I ask: Is it a wise investment of your tax dollars to over-incarcerate non-armed, low level offenders for life? Thus far, my 14 years served has cost over 360,000 dollars. This does not include medical costs. --I Am Redeemable... Stevan Dozier
See additional information here.

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