In re Pers. Restraint of Dodge (Majority)Annotate this Case
David Dodge was convicted of first degree murder, rape, and burglary for crimes he committed in 1997, when he was 17 years old. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Twenty years later, the Washington legislature passed RCW 9.94A.730, giving people like Dodge who received lengthy sentences for crimes committed as juveniles, a chance for earlier release, after serving at least 20 years of their sentence. The statute: (1) required the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) to begin with a presumption of release after 20 years and to apply that presumption of release by considering “affirmative and other conditions” that could make release work; and (2) directed the ISRB to “give public safety considerations the highest priority when making all discretionary decisions regarding the ability for release and conditions of release.” In his personal restraint petition (PRP), Dodge challenged the ISRB’s application of this statute to his petition for early release after he had served more than 20 years of his 50-year sentence, arguing the ISRB erred by: (1) failing to apply the presumption of release contained in RCW 9.94A.730; (2) failing to consider conditions of release that could reduce his risk to an acceptable level, as the statute mandated; and (3) relying primarily on static historical facts about his crime rather than on evidence of his rehabilitation. In a matter of first impression for the Washington Supreme Court, it found that the ISRB placed singular weight on the duty to consider public safety, while failing to apply the presumption of release or meaningfully consider any conditions of release that might reduce risk to an appropriate level. The Court therefore reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded to the ISRB for a new early release hearing.