September 9, 2022 – Despite previously ruling in State v. Haag that de facto life sentences for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional, the Washington State Supreme Court walks back on their decision and, in a 5-4 split, condemns a teen to a 61-year sentence in State v. Anderson.
Mr. Haag, a white man who was 17 years old at the time he committed his crime, saw his conviction of a 46-year sentence struck down as unconstitutional. In stark contrast, Mr. Anderson, a Black man who was also 17 years old at the time of his crime, saw the Washington Supreme Court uphold his 61-year sentence.
WAP Attorney Travis Stearns, Mr. Anderson’s lawyer, had this to say:
It is disturbing that youthful white offenders who have appeared before the Supreme Court received relief that Mr. Anderson, who is Black, did not.
Mr. Anderson has spent his time in prison making up for his mistakes. After decades of infraction-free life, he should have the opportunity to show his rehabilitation is genuine and receive a second look at his sentence. Unlike almost every other Washington youth who committed serious crimes, he will never have that chance.
For more information, please read these articles:
“Washington Supreme Court OKs virtual life term for teen” by Gene Johnson.
“WA Supreme Court upholds teen’s 61-year sentence in Tukwila double murder” by Sara Jean Green.
Updated: 9/9/22 at 1:55 PM.