On a call with NARSOL, one of the facilitators was unsure what an indeterminate sentence is…. like me, before my sons arrest in the state of WA for a crime designed, implemented, and executed by the state police, I too had no idea what that phrase meant!
An “indeterminate” prison sentence is one for which an offender’s date of release cannot be predicted with fair accuracy from the court’s sentence at the conclusion of a criminal trial. The length of term will be fixed by one or more decision makers who exercise later-in-time release discretion in a way that is neither routinized nor reasonably knowable in advance.
WA state, where Jace was entrapped, abolished indeterminate sentencing in 1994. It was later brought back for only the most serious felons, you know, like those ensnared in police schemes to make money! The administrative responsibility for this function was named the ISRB (Indeterminate Sentence Review Board).
Actually – the law was reenacted in 2001 due to a string of heinous sex crimes. Most notably Earl Shriner who violently and brutally beat, mutilated, and raped a seven-year-old boy shortly after being released from a prior conviction.
Unfortunately, this review board, like other parole boards, is just another flawed cog in the broken machine of injustice.
According to a WA state Attorney “The Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board is quite willing to detain for life, people that have always professed their innocence. In fact, for someone wrongfully accused of a sex crime, continuing to claim their innocence and failing to “admit to their problem” and embrace treatment, will almost certainly ensure that they remain incarcerated for the rest of their lives.”
Here is Jace accounting of his experience with the ISRB:
Hello. My name is Jace Hambrick.
I was sentenced to 18 months in prison on May 22 . I should have been released on September 22 with good time. I didn’t get released until January 2.
The main reasons for this were my Counselor, and the ISRB.
I remember sitting in my cell in the weeks before my ISRB review, thinking about everything that I had been told. That they never approve you on your first go through. That you have to admit your guilt. That the review board hates sex offenders.There were a number of forms and papers to look at before actually attending the review as well, none of which I could really comprehend. They’re laid out in ways that don’t make sense to most inmates. But I remember reading through my 420 packet and seeing so much just twisted against me. I knew before ever getting in front of the review board that they wouldn’t really listen to my side of the story. The cops had already made a report about me, an entirely inaccurate one that didn’t even follow the facts, but nevertheless I knew that the board would take it’s main points from this falsified report.
“Has experimented with japanese tentacle rape.” is by far one of my favorite of such slander. First of all, how does one experiment with tentacles rape? But the main issue was that the police in question didn’t know what ‘Hentai’ was. Every man and woman is subject to their own tastes, and I thought nothing of them not knowing what that was. I explained to them that it was animated porn made in japan and that the common ‘stereotype’ is tentacle porn. Even in the video of the interview with the detectives, I never once say I have ‘experimented with tentacle rape.’
However I’ve gotten off topic. One of the other forms that really caught my eye was the Static 99-R. A form that places practically any man under 25 as a level 4-5 risk at the very least, that’s Moderate – High. Some of the main questions being ‘Age at Release’ with ages under 35 being punished. ‘Have you ever lived with a significant other for more than 2 years.’ I was 20. I’m obviously expected to move out and marry on my 18’th birthday. The others being in regards to victims. ‘Any Unrelated Victims’, ‘Any Stranger Victims’, ‘Any Male Victims’. In my case the only ‘victim’ was me. The ’13 year old girl’ didn’t exist. However I am still marked as if they had existed.
At this point I’m debating whether or not I even want to be released, obviously I do. But at what cost? To be put on probation where if I even step out of my house I’m coming right back to prison?
As the day approached for me to attend my ISRB review I grew depressed and nervous. Despite being innocent of my crimes, everyone around me was telling me to admit guilt if only to get out of prison. Only a few said that I didn’t have to but that I needed to ‘look ashamed of myself’.
I remember waking up and sitting in my cell as I waited. I didn’t go to the gym or yard, nor did I go to the dayroom. I didn’t read a book or watch the television. I sat, and I waited.
The review itself was just as intimidating, if not more so than the wait. Three people more than twice my age, looking down at me from across the table, judging me. My ADHD prevented me from sitting still no matter how hard I tried. My hands were sweating, my mouth was dry, words choked in my throat as I tried to respond to them. They went through the paperwork, telling me of my charges and guil and confirming ‘facts’ which I was unable to correct. Only when they got to the most significant point did it turn in my favor. The lead interviewer asked me something along the lines of “So you went to meet a thirteen year old girl.”
The look of confusion was a surprise as they went back through the records to double check that the victim was a thirteen year old girl.
“It says they were thirteen.”
“I was sent the photo of a 24 year old woman, and met her at the door.”
More confusion as they went through the documents after which they told me to tell them what happened.
I can only smile slightly as I remember myself, nervous and fidgeting, as I told them about meeting a person online. How they told me they were 13 but sending the picture of an obvious adult. Explaining to them that I was positive it was a roleplayer, someone that plays a role that they don’t normally fill, and that them being 13 was just a role. How after some talking I determined that it was worth checking out, as the person talking seemed mature and adult. And finally about how I arrived to meet an adult woman who greeted me at the door and was obviously the woman from the picture.
I did admit to being an idiot. It was after all idiotic of me to not raise a red flag at them stating they were 13. But at the same time, I had committed no crime. They addressed some of their concerns with me being released and I answered them to the best of my ability. They asked me what I had done in prison and I told them that I had been attending school and Toastmasters among other things.
When it was over I went back to my cell and slept the rest of the day, having been told that results would arrive in 4-6 weeks.
I got their answer on 7/10.
Yet a bigger part of the problems with the ISRB lie with its relationship to my Counselor who seemed unable to give me ANY information in regards to an interstate compact or how the ISRB review would go. Nor could she give me a definite answer of when it would be, as it was I attended it more than a week after the date I had been told to expect. On top of that I was unable to get any details from my Counselor about an Interstate Compact, as a matter of fact I was specifically told that I couldn’t submit an Interstate Compact until after my review. Nor could I start my release paperwork until after my review. Yet I was supposed to be released in just two months. My counselor was dodging questions and making things up. I was unable to get any information on my living restrictions. In the end we (my family and I ) decided to release to washington and were able to learn that there was no point if I later planned to move back to oregon as that was more challenging than just releasing to oregon and that our home in oregon was in compliance with the restrictions.
All I can really say about the whole experience was that it seemed as though the ISRB wasn’t a part of DOC, but rather an outsider that had little to no regard for me or the other inmates. They seemed cold and distant, uncaring, biased against me, and as if they had already decided my fate.
I can honestly say that I’m surprised that I was released after coming face to face with them, and that they seemed unknowledgeable about my situation even though I’m sure they had plenty of time to prepare. In addition, had they been more communicative with my Counselor, I may have been able to serve my 18 months and leave, rather than an extra month and a half past my 18 month mark.