Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mary Robnett is alerting families of incarcerated individuals to recent solicitations for unnecessary, high-cost services. Families are receiving cold calls and being told that, if they want to request a resentencing hearing from a prosecutor’s office under a recently-passed law, they need certified court documents to do it.
The cost quoted: $1,500.
“We want families to know there’s no need to spend big bucks if they want their loved one considered for resentencing,” Robnett said. “An incarcerated individual or their family member can simply send an email or letter to my office and ask to be considered. We’ll reply and tell you how to submit a packet for us to review. There’s no need for ‘certified’ court documents, and certainly no need to spend $1,500 on them.”
A new law, which passed the Legislature earlier this year as SB 6164, gives county prosecuting attorneys “the discretion to petition the court to resentence an individual if the person's sentence no longer advances the interests of justice.” If a prosecuting attorney agrees to set a resentencing hearing, the new law stipulates:
The court may consider postconviction factors including, but not limited to, the inmate's disciplinary record and record of rehabilitation while incarcerated; evidence that reflects whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition, if any, have reduced the inmate's risk for future violence; and evidence that reflects changed circumstances since the inmate's original sentencing such that the inmate's continued incarceration no longer serves the interests of justice.
The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has initiated a Sentence Review Committee to evaluate 6164 resentencing requests. The committee is reviewing requests in the order they are received.
The office was alerted to the recent concerning solicitations when a family member of an incarcerated individual received a call from a Yakima-based company. The caller offered an “investigation” and certified court documents for $1,500. The solicitation implied that certified court documents were required if their loved one was to be considered, and that if the company was hired, they could get the prosecutor’s office to review the matter within two weeks. Neither of those implications are true.
The family member called the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to ask whether this service is actually necessary. They were assured that they did not need to contract with this company in order to be considered.
Robnett added, “We have Covid going on right now, and lockdowns, and the holidays. People are already stressed. Then they receive a call out of the blue and are told they need to spend a substantial amount of money to request consideration under 6164. I can understand why people would feel pressured or confused, so we want to get the word out there to these families: They do not need to spend money on these types of services to be considered for resentencing.”
Robnett’s office informed the state Department of Corrections and the state Attorney General’s Office of the matter.