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Crime, Law and Justice
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Another Washington Juvenile Killer To Be Released From Prison Due To Law Change

Washington Department of Corrections
Michael Harris is scheduled to be released from prison on August 17, 2016 as a result of a new Washington state law that presumes the release of juvenile killers after 25 years. In 1987, Harris and Barry Massey murdered Steilacoom marina owner Paul Wang.

Another Washington state juvenile killer sentenced to serve life without parole will be set free next year. This follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and passage of a new Washington state law.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life without parole is unconstitutional for juveniles. In response, the Washington legislature passed a law that directs the release of juvenile killers after 25 years unless there’s reason to believe they’re likely to commit a new crime.

The latest to benefit is Michael Harris. He was 15 in 1987 when he and his 13-year-old accomplice, Barry Massey, robbed and murdered Paul Wang at his Steilacoom, Washington, marina.

Massey became the youngest person in the United States to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. He’s scheduled for release early next year. Washington’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board has now decided that Harris should also be released -- in August of next year after he completes a final behavioral program.

Harris has a record of 22 serious infractions in prison but only one in recent years. Otherwise he’s obtained his GED, held a prison job and participated in rehabilitation programs.