July 30, 1996 in City

Foreman Says Youth No Excuse Gubernatorial Candidate Wants ‘Three Strikes’ Law To Apply To Kids

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Juveniles who commit violent crimes should be tried as adults and be eligible to “strike out” for a mandatory life sentence, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dale Foreman said Monday.

The Wenatchee state representative called for locking up more young offenders and spending less on prisons.

“We’re sending the wrong message to these young people,” Foreman said at a news conference in front of the Spokane Public Safety Building. “The liberals in charge in Olympia have taken the wrong approach on juvenile crime.”

But a Seattle spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the state’s “Three Strikes, You’re Out” law, argued Foreman’s plan could be more expensive and less effective at protecting the public.

Sending young criminals to prison “makes them much more likely to commit crimes when they get out,” said Doug Honig.

State figures suggest Foreman would have a hard time accomplishing both goals of locking up more juveniles and reducing prison costs.

Like fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Norm Maleng last week, Foreman called for a crackdown on juvenile crime. The House majority leader wants 16-and 17-year-olds tried as adults if they commit any violent crime or felony sex offense. Those under 16 who have previously been sent to a juvenile facility for such offenses would be tried as adults for committing those crimes again.

They would remain in juvenile facilities until they are 18, then be transferred to adult prisons for the remainder of their sentences, he said.

A juvenile who commits a crime listed in the Three Strikes law should have that conviction remain on his record after becoming an adult, the candidate said. Under current statutes, juvenile convictions do not count as “strikes.”

Foreman criticized state prisons as a “Cadillac corrections system” that spends too much on “pop psychology and counseling.”

Washington spends $26,000 per year on an adult prisoner, while Idaho spends only about $19,000 per year, he said.

State figures show Foreman’s estimates are slightly off.

The state spends just over $24,000 per adult prisoner, according to statistics from the state Department of Corrections. About 80 percent of that goes for such costs as salaries for guards, food, building maintenance, medical care, clothing and administration. About $2,100 is spent for classification and counseling, although a complete breakdown of such costs is not available.

The state also spends just under $45,000 per year on young criminals, less than the $56,000 cited by Foreman.

Work camps and group homes - where about 60 percent of the juvenile criminals are sent - are far less expensive, Department of Social and Health Services figures show.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: An opposing viewpoint A study by the Rand Corporation suggests spending money on programs to keep high-risk youths in school is more effective at deterring crime than a similar Three Strikes law in California, says Doug Honig of the ACLU.

This sidebar appeared with the story: An opposing viewpoint A study by the Rand Corporation suggests spending money on programs to keep high-risk youths in school is more effective at deterring crime than a similar Three Strikes law in California, says Doug Honig of the ACLU.

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