Feb. 12, 2013
THE PROSECUTOR’S POST Vol. 6, Issue 1
Helping Individuals Transition Successfully from Prison to the Community
Over the past three decades, the criminal justice system in Washington State has risen to face many challenges. One area that has not received sufficient attention over the past 30 years is re-entry. The criminal justice system should accept as part of its mission the duty to help individuals in making a successful transition back into the community after completing their sentence. It is not the performance measure demanded of the criminal justice system.
As we forecast the need for prison space in the future, planners expect that approximately 40 percent of all individuals released will be back in prison within three years. We expect recidivism, we plan for it, and we suffer the consequences of it. To that end the PAO began an effort last summer with community partners and assembled experts on re-entry together with officials within the criminal justice system. Housing, education, jobs, treatment and hope are needed for people to succeed in the difficult path from prison back to freedom.
Mary Flowers from the City of Seattle
and Peoples Institute N.W. speaking
at the Re-Entry Summit.
The PAO’s group produced a written report last month for presentation to the Governor and Legislature. The report is called, “Investing for No Return.” A set of principles guided our discussions of re-entry, including the concept of planning for an individual’s re-entry not on the last day of incarceration, but on the day of sentencing. Other needs addressed in the report include family and mental health counseling, chemical dependency treatment, peer support, community orientation, housing, food, employment or educational opportunities, and also helping individuals resolve other pending legal matters in other court systems so they leave prison with a clean slate.
“There is a lot of room for improvement in our approach to supporting the transition of formerly-incarcerated people from prison to the community,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “If we can reduce the rate of recidivism through smart investments in re-entry strategies, we can improve public safety, save taxpayer money that would otherwise go to prison budgets, and re-establish formerly-incarcerated individuals as productive members of society,” he added.
The PAO report has created more interest in what can be done to reduce recidivism, reduce costs and increase public safety. A legislative work session on the report is scheduled for February 20 in the House Public Safety Committee, and on February 25 at the Seattle City Council.
2012 Felony Filing Statistics
The PAO filed 6,135 felony cases in 2012, which is 43 fewer than in 2011, according to statistics released last week by the Department of Judicial Administration. About 46 percent of those were filed at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
According to this report, violent crimes accounted for nearly 40 percent of those cases, including these categories: 62 homicides, 435 sex crime offenses, including failure to register as a sex offender; 419 robbery cases, and 1,336 aggravated assaults (assault with a weapon or serious bodily injury). In addition, the office filed 140 auto theft cases and 1,694 burglary and theft cases. Read the full report.
Felony drug cases, mostly delivery of drugs, accounted for 18.1 percent of the total (1108), down slightly from 2011 (18.9) and 2010 (20.7). Almost half of these cases, 553, were referred into Drug Court, where defendants are offered a treatment alternative to traditional prosecution and prison. Charges are dismissed for Drug Court defendants who successfully complete treatment. For most of the 1990s and until 2007, felony drug cases represented approximately one-third of felony cases filed, compared to about one-sixth today.
“We are fortunate to be in a period where our felony caseloads remain relatively flat,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “We know that each felony case is a very serious matter for the victims and the defendants involved,” said Satterberg. “The deputy prosecutors and staff in our Criminal Division do a remarkable job handling this heavy volume of cases, never losing sight of our mission to do justice, and with the care and compassion that victims deserve and our citizens expect,” he added.
Follow the PAO on Twitter
In an effort to keep the news media and public informed about crime and justice in King County, the PAO is now on Twitter. Follow us for the latest news and information at: @KCProsecutor.
Guilty Verdict in Knife Attack on Three Women: State v. JoJo Ejonga: A jury has convicted a Kent man in a brutal 2011 knife attack on three unarmed women, one of whom was 7-months pregnant. Jojo Ejonga, 22, was convicted of three counts of Attempted Murder in the First Degree with deadly weapon enhancements on each charge. The defendant had been friends with one of the women and her brother. Ejonga was kicked out of their Des Moines home for stealing money from the woman’s mom. Ejonga, claiming he would pay back money he owed for the theft and for damaging her car, met with the woman and two of her friends, but then, without warning, attacked them. The assault was so severe that two of the victims were hospitalized in critical condition. When one of the women attempted to flee, Ejonga chased after her, and despite her pregnant condition, inflicted more stab wounds to her body. She underwent an emergency C-section and the baby survived. With the deadly weapon enhancements, Ejonga will face a sentence range of 51 to 66 years in prison when he is sentenced next month. The jury also found by special verdict a basis for a potential exceptional sentence since one victim was pregnant at the time of the attack. The case was handled by Senior DPA Brad Bales.
Sentencing in Kent Rapes: State v. Chrisean Cressel: A juvenile charged with two rapes in Kent pleaded guilty last month in adult court and was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years up to an indeterminate maximum of life in prison. Chrisean Cressel, 16, pleaded guilty to two counts of Rape First Degree for two attacks that occurred near Kent-Kangley Road in Kent in October 2011. In the first attack, the defendant sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman who was walking home from a bus stop. A 17-year-old girl who was also walking home from a bus stop was attacked the following day. He told each victim he had a gun and threatened to shoot them. A judge ordered the defendant, who was 15 at the time of the assaults, to be tried in adult court. “It is extremely rare to see an offender this young become a predatory serial rapist,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. “The victims of his crimes were courageous throughout the process and their strength and cooperation ensured that this young man will be incarcerated for at least 20 years, up to life,” he added. The case was handled by Senior DPA Michael Mohandeson.
First Sentencing Under New Vehicular Homicide Sentence Range: State v. Samuel J. Cruz: Samuel J. Cruz was sentenced last month to 102 months in prison for driving impaired and hitting a pedestrian in Auburn on July 19, 2012. The defendant pleaded guilty to Vehicular Homicide (DUI). Cruz, 25, was under the influence of a prescription drug when his car drifted to the side of a residential street and hit Stacy Ankerfelt, who died from her injuries on August 19. Ankerfelt was a grade school teacher in the Kent School District. Last June, a new law went into effect raising the standard sentence range for Vehicular Homicide (DUI) from 31 to 41 months to 78 to 102 months, making it equal to a manslaughter first degree range. Cruz is the first to be sentenced in King County under the new law. He was one of the first to be charged after the new range went into effect. Sentencing was before Judge Leroy McCullough. Prosecutors recommended 102 months in prison. The case was handled by Senior DPA Amy Freedheim.
Dan Satterberg was in Olympia last week to testify on three bills of interest to prosecutors:
Juveniles Convicted of Illegal Firearm Possession: HB 1096 and SB 5376 would change our juvenile sentencing law for convictions on illegal firearm possession. These bills would require a sentence to JRA for 15 weeks upon the second conviction, instead of the fifth under current law. “We are missing an opportunity to intervene with young people who decide to carry guns,” said Dan Satterberg. “Waiting until the fifth conviction before a JRA stay is waiting too long in most cases.” The topic of juveniles and firearms was highlighted last week on the Seattle Channel.
Protection Order for Stalking Victims: Dan Satterberg joined victims of stalking by strangers to seek a better response to the terrifying ordeal of being pursued by a stalker. The current anti-harassment order is insufficient protection in these rare but dangerous cases. HB 1383 was heard in the House Judiciary Committee.
Wrongly Convicted People and Compensation: Satterberg testified in support of legislation developed by the Innocence Project at the U.W. Law School that creates a reasonable compensation scheme for people who have been convicted, then exonerated due to their actual innocence. HB 1341 was also heard on the House Judiciary agenda.
Polar Plunge in Support of Special Olympics
Dan Satterberg (in hat and sunglasses) jumping into the cold water
of Lake Union In support of Special Olympics.
Dan Satterberg joined local law enforcement officers and Congressman Dave Reichert on Saturday, February 9, in jumping into the frigid waters of Lake Union to support Special Olympics of Washington. “I was ‘freezin’ for a reason’ by jumping into Lake Union in my suit and tie, naturally, to raise money for the kids we help through the Special Olympics experience,” Satterberg said. The Polar Plunge was held at South Lake Union Park. Here’s a link to video of the event on KING-TV’s website.
For more information see the Special Olympics Washington website: seattlepolarplunge2013
Senior DPA Returns After Teaching Trial Skills in South Korea
PAO Senior DPA Steven Kim has returned from South Korea after spending the past year in Seoul teaching Korean prosecutors trial practice skills and lecturing on the American Criminal Justice System in anticipation of the country's adoption of a grand jury system. South Korea adopted an advisory jury system in 2008 in an effort to make its legal system more democratic. Since then, the country's jury practice has been constantly evolving. South Korea's system is similar to the United States' trial-by-jury system, except that the Korean jury's ruling is not legally binding on the judge but is simply an advisory opinion for the judges to consider. Ultimately, the judges have the right to determine the verdict and the sentence, regardless of the opinion from the jury.
Steven was invited to lend his expertise to Korean prosecutors because of his extensive criminal trial practice and expertise and because he speaks Korean fluently. Steven is a second-generation Korean American who has worked for the King County PAO since 2001.
PAO Raises $71,935 in Employee Charitable Giving Campaign
During the 2012 King County Employee Giving Campaign, PAO employees donated $71,935 in support of local and national nonprofit and charitable organizations. This total surpasses the $69,075 raised in 2011. Many thanks to PAO Legal Administrative Specialist Lynn Sellick-Lane for her hard work organizing the charitable campaign, and to PAO employees Heather Amodei, Ian Cunningham, Amanda Kossman, Philip Kouse, Tracy Krohn, Samantha Schuh, Tyler Scott, and LeeAnne Zwinkel for all their hard work on the campaign.
Sixth Annual Valentine Project for Children’s Hospital
The PAO is participating in the 6th annual Valentine Project benefitting Seattle’s Children’s Hospital. Employees collected handmade valentines along with games, toys, craft supplies, and electronics for children at the hospital. Many thanks to PAO Legal Assistant Lani Englund for her work on the Valentine Project. More information is available on the hospital’s website.
Community & Speaking Events
Dan Satterberg enjoys attending and speaking at community events.
Dan attended the 2013 Chinese Lunar New Year Black Tie Gala last Saturday at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The event was also a fundraiser for the development of the Bruce Lee Action Museum in Seattle.
In January, Dan spoke at:
• St. John’s Men’s Group in Kirkland.
• Sound Cities Association
If you would like to invite Dan or someone from the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to speak to your organization, please email the office at this link Prosecuting Attorney.
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