In re Pers. Restraint of Brooks (Majority)Annotate this Case
In 1978, 17-year-old Carl Brooks pleaded guilty to eight counts of first degree robbery, first degree rape, first degree kidnapping, first degree assault, second degree murder, and first degree burglary, all while armed with a deadly weapon. Over the span of three days, Brooks carjacked, robbed, and raped a woman while her son was present; attempted to rob a couple where gunfire between Brooks and the male victim led to the shooting death of the victim’s wife; carjacked and robbed a third woman; and threatened a fourth woman in her home, demanded financial information, and assaulted her. Brooks had prior convictions in both juvenile and adult court. At the time, sentencing in Washington was “indeterminate:” trial courts sentenced offenders to the maximum amount of time that could be served. But the amount of time the offender would actually serve was largely controlled by the Board of Prison Terms and Paroles (parole board) who would set the minimum term, taking into account recommendations by the trial court and prosecutor. The judge ordered five of the life sentences to run concurrently, and the remaining three to run consecutively, effectively sentencing Brooks to four consecutive “blocks” (or groupings) of life sentences. Both the prosecutor and the court recommended that the parole board give Brooks minimum terms of life. Departing from the recommendations slightly, the parole board set minimum terms of 20, 25, 25, and 20 years for the four blocks, for a minimum total of 90 years. Not long after Brooks was sentenced, the Washington legislature replaced the indeterminate sentencing system with a determinate system. For those sentenced under the former indeterminate sentencing system who were still incarcerated, the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) (the successor to the parole board) was directed to “attempt to make [parole] decisions reasonably consistent” with the Sentencing Reform Act. While Brooks has been serving his time, the United States Supreme Court held that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Washington Supreme Court determined that by its plain language, RCW 9.94A.730 applies to Brooks’ sentence. The ISRB was ordered to provide Brooks with a hearing under RCW 9.94A.730 that presumed release. Accordingly, the Court granted the Personal Restraint Petitioned, reversed the Court of Appeals, and remanded to the ISRB for further proceedings.