Did Lack of Juvenile Parole Fail in Case of WA Repeat Offender?


One of three teens convicted of killing a popular Seattle street musician in 2008 continues to make headlines for his tangles with the law, says KPLU, an NPR affiliate in Seattle. Billy Chambers, now an adult, was most recently locked up for hit-and-run. He did not qualify for supervision by a juvenile parole officer because of state budget cuts. In 2009, 16-year-old Chambers was locked up for possession of stolen property, robbery and -– most significantly — manslaughter for his role in the death of Seattle’s “Tuba Man.”

Chambers served a year behind bars, and since then has wracked up two theft convictions and faces multiple traffic offenses. Now he’s accused of ramming his car into a woman who’d reported him to the police. “The system I think in this case has failed,” said Terry Henderson, who runs a website dedicated to the memory of Tuba Man. Before 2009, all kids coming out of Washington state lock-ups were placed on parole. By the time Chambers got out, budget cuts had forced an end to that practice. Now only juvenile offenders who score in the top 25-percent of a risk assessment qualify for parole -– along with sex offenders and auto thieves. Washington legislators who cut funding for juvenile parole were looking at studies by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy finding that in the case of lower risk juveniles, parole does not seem to reduce the chances they'll reoffend.

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