Division II: Sign Holding Not Proper Punishment for Thief under the Sentencing Reform Act
Washington state does not give its judges the same leeway the judges and other states get. For our judges to impose a sentence, there has to be some statutory authority to do so. Our statutes allow things like community custody, jail time, probation, etc.
This case involves a woman to it embezzled funds from a booster club. The judge requested she hold the sign that said, “I stole from kids.” But the prosecutor and the defense attorney recognize that there is no authority for this. Though the parties agreed, the judge still summoned button back into court to determine why she did not comply with this. He then gave her more time in jail and still ordered her to display the side.
The courts do have the leeway to impose conditions on people as part of their sentence, but those conditions must be related to their crimes. For instance, hackers often cannot use computers. However, the judge oversteps their bounds when they coerce the defendant to do things for purposes of rehabilitation. Any affirmative condition must be authorized by the Sentencing Reform Act. “Persons may be punished for their crimes and they may be prohibited from doing things which are directly related to their crimes, but they may not be coerced into doing things which are believed will rehabilitate them."
Here, the Sentencing Reform Act does not authorize affirmative acts in relation to first-degree theft.
Now, here is the interesting question to me. What if Button decided to enter a plea agreement where she held the sign in lieu of a portion of her sentence? Would this still be subject to the Sentencing Perform Act requirements?