Category Archives: Studies

WA Ranks Low In States With Road Rage

A person driving.

A recent study from H&P Law ranks Washington among states with the least amount of road rage. The firm used data from The Trace and the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System to rank states by most common road rage incidents. Washingtonians can consider themselves lucky – the Evergreen State falls in the bottom ten for reported or documented road rage incidents.


The report ranks all 50 states utilizing analysis of six key factors. Data points used include the number of firearm-related incidents, the percentage of crashes involving aggressive or careless driving, the number of accidents with fatalities, the total number of deaths from crashes involving aggressive or careless driving, the percentage of incidents involving aggressive or careless driving that resulted in a fatality, and speeding violations, at varying weights.

Washington ranks 44 of 50, making it one of the states with the fewest road rage incidents. Rhode Island was ranked the best. The study ranked the least road rage prone states in the bottom ten as: Iowa South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, California, Rhode Island.


The Evergreen State has a low rate of firearm-related road rage incidents, at 1.5 per 100,000 residents. Less than 28% of the state’s car crashes involve aggressive or careless driving, according to the study. Washington experiences 2.5 fatal crashes due to aggressive driving per 100,000 residents, and a low number of speeding violations compared to other states.


According to the report, the states with the most road rage are:

  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico
  • Montana
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • North Carolina
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Wisconsin
  • Tennessee

At some point in every driver’s life, they’ll inevitably experience road rage. Whether it’s screaming vulgarities, the middle finger, tailgating or aggression, being on the receiving end of road rage is jarring, and potentially dangerous.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Firearm Offenses or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

“Three Strikes, You’re Out” Report Shows Failures & Inequities

Three Strikes and you’re out of the game in California

Photo courtesy of Isabella Roesler and Anna Silverman.

A report prepared by the Civil Rights Clinic at Seattle University School of Law and the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality found scathing inequalities continue to exist in the criminal justice system. In Justice is Not a Game, they rely on data to demonstrate that Washington’s Three-Strikes Law fails to meet its penological goals. Consequently, this punishment is arbitrary and cruel.


“Three Strikes, You’re Out” has at least five strikes against it: (1) it is overly retributive, punishing much more harshly than is justified, which makes it an immoral punishment; (2) it fails as a deterrent, making it ineffective as a policy choice; (3) it excessively over-incapacitates, imprisoning people far beyond when they would continue committing serious offenses; (4) it fails to allow for rehabilitation and redemption; and (5) it is applied in a racially disparate manner, making this punishment arbitrary and hence cruel.

Ample research demonstrating the first three points already exists. ThE report focuses on the latter two—the denial of redemption and the striking racial injustice. It also provides historical context of the POAA and explains in detail why repeal of the Persistent Offender Accountability Act (POAA) is a justifiable policy choice that would leave the rest of Washington’s Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) intact.


According to the study, Black people are 18 times more likely than White people charged with three strikes crimes to be sentenced as persistent offenders. Also, Indigenous persons are sentenced to life without parole three times more often than White persons. In a state where only 4.6% of the population is Black, about 40% of those sentenced to life without parole are Black persons. There is no way this severe racial disproportionality can be justified.

One of the most prevalent areas imposing three-strike sentences is second-degree assault, the basis for 142 of the 270 three-strike sentences in Washington. Of those convicted of this crime, 33% are Black, and 5% are Indigenous. Compared to the state population, Black people are over-represented by a factor of 7, while Indigenous persons are over-represented by a factor of 2.5. Likewise, life without parole sentences for anticipatory offenses imposed on Black and Indigenous persons are also severely discriminatory, with 32% of them imposed on Black persons and 11% imposed on Indigenous persons.

Evidence indicates that none of the penological goals of incarceration are met when a court imposes a life without parole sentence. As those serving these sentences age, the sentences fail to meet the interests of justice as they can no longer be justified as retributive or to increase public safety. Instead, the sentences operate to incarcerate those who pose no danger to the community.


If you have a three-strike case, you can use this study to argue that three-strike sentences are arbitrary and unconstitutional. The racial disparity inherent in the sentences makes them cruel and, as such, violates Washington’s Article I, Section 14’s ban on cruel or unusual punishment. Our Supreme Court has recognized that this type of detail is more than adequate to make a constitutional challenge. It is time for Courts to acknowledge the extreme arbitrariness of this law and strike it down.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

WA State Crime Report: Violent Crimes Down, Hate Crimes & Vehicle Thefts Up

2023 Washington Annual Crime Report

Photo courtesy of WASPC

The annual Crime in Washington report detailing specific crime rates throughout the state in 2023 was released.  It found that as overall violent crimes went down, hate crimes and vehicle thefts went up.

The report is based on data that was sent to the Washington State Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) by 225 agencies across the state.

The report said that the rate of murders, violent and property crimes decreased slightly across the state. There were 376 murders in 2023 which was a 5.8% decrease from 2022. But last year’s number is an 87% increase from 2019. Violent crimes decreased about 5.5% and property crime also decreased by about 11.9%.


The report detailed statistics that showed that hate crimes increased by 6%. The highest frequency of hate crimes based on demographics were race, religion, disability, gender/gender identity, and sexual orientation.

  • Race: Anti-Black/African American
  • Religion: Anti-Jewish
  • Disability: Anti-Mental Disability
  • Gender/Gender Identity: Anti-Transgender
  • Sexual Orientation: Anti-LGBTQ

“These are severe assaults. And we had 79 of those last year related to hate crime in the state of Washington. And that should be a number that should be very concerning to us and should point to the fact that we have to do even more to combat hate crime.” ~Steve Strachan, Executive director of WASPC.


Since 2019, the state has seen a 112% increase in vehicle thefts. Based on the report vehicle thefts increased by 5.4% over the last year. More than 20% of people who were arrested for vehicle theft were juveniles, which is a 24% increase from 2022.

“This is one that is not going down. We’ve seen substantial increases since 2019, and it went up again this year. A lot of issues related this. We’ve talked about the last few years— changes in use of force standards, changes in police staffing, changes in pursuit restrictions . . . Most of the vehicles that are stolen in our state are older vehicles. They’re vehicles belonging to people who can least afford being a victim of crime in terms of vehicle theft. And it can turn their life upside down. So, this is a really concerning number for all of us.” ~Steve Strachan, Executive director of WASPC.


The report also looked at the staffing numbers of officers across the state. The number of commissioned officers went up by 94 which brought the total to 10,760. The report said that Washington ranked 51st out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the number of officers per thousand residents.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

The “Second Look” Movement

rear view of a silhouette man in window

Photo by Donald Tong on

A recent article in the Sentencing Project reports that numerous states have enacted “second look” judicial review policies to allow judges to review sentences after a person has served a lengthy prison sentence.

Titled, “The Second Look Movement: A Review of the Nation’s Sentence Review Laws,” the report provides a detailed analysis of second look legislation and court decisions in 12 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. It also delves into the implications of such laws on youth offenders and emerging adults, along with recommendations for enhancing their application.

“Research has clearly established that lengthy sentences do not have a significant deterrent effect on crime and divert resources from effective public safety programs. Nevertheless, existing parole systems, like executive clemency, are ineffective at curtailing excessive sentences in most states due to their highly discretionary nature, lack of due process and oversight, and lack of objective consideration standards,” ~Kara Gotsch, executive director of The Sentencing Project. 

Research has also established that lengthy sentences do not have a significant deterrent effect on crime and divert resources from effective public safety programs. Nevertheless, existing parole systems are ineffective at curtailing excessive sentences in most states due to their highly discretionary nature, lack of due process and oversight, and lack of objective consideration standards.

As a result, we’ve seen legislators consider and adopt second look legislation as a more effective means to reconsider an incarcerated person’s sentence in order to assess their fitness to reenter society. While much work remains, we’re thrilled to see this momentum across the country.

Key findings from the report highlight the provisions and recommendations necessary to ensure the effectiveness and fairness of second-look legislation. These include expanding eligibility criteria, implementing fully retroactive provisions, granting judicial discretion in sentence reduction, and providing timely and accessible review processes.

Among the states examined, six — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, Florida, and North Dakota — and the District of Columbia allow courts to reconsider sentences under specified conditions, such as age at the time of the offense and duration of incarceration. Meanwhile, California, Colorado, and New York focus their reviews on specific populations, such as military veterans, habitual offenders, and domestic violence survivors, respectively.

In addition to California, four states – Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington – have enacted prosecutor-initiated resentencing laws that allow prosecutors to request the court to reconsider a sentence.

Moreover, the report underscores provisions allowing for compassionate release for federal inmates based on extraordinary and compelling reasons, as well as for the elderly age alone for those incarcerated in the District of Columbia.

My opinion? Second look legislation is imperative to end mass incarceration, accelerate racial justice, and better invest in public safety.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Study: Daily Marijuana Use Outpaces Drinking

Marijuana vs. Alcohol | Is Marijuana Safer Than Alcohol? reports that millions of people in the U.S. use marijuana daily or nearly every day. This information comes via analysis of national survey data. Also, marijuana users now outnumber alcohol drinkers.

Alcohol is still more widely used, but 2022 was the first time this intensive level of marijuana use overtook daily and near-daily drinking, said the study’s author, Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

“A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use,” ~Jonathan Caulkins.


The research, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, was published Wednesday in the journal Addiction. The survey is a highly regarded source of self-reported estimates of tobacco, alcohol and drug use in the United States.

In 2022, an estimated 17.7 million people reported using marijuana daily or near-daily compared to 14.7 million daily or near-daily drinkers, according to the study. From 1992 to 2022, the per capita rate of reporting daily or near-daily marijuana use increased 15-fold. Caulkins acknowledged in the study that people may be more willing to report marijuana use as public acceptance grows, which could boost the increase.

Most states now allow medical or recreational marijuana, though it remains illegal at the federal level. In November, Florida voters will decide on a constitutional amendment allowing recreational cannabis, and the federal government is moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug.

Research shows that high-frequency users are more likely to become addicted to marijuana, said Dr. David A. Gorelick, a psychiatry professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.


My opinion? The correlation between substance abuse and violent behavior has been well documented. Studies show that more than 26% of respondents who reported using alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine in a 12-month period, also reported committing a violent crime within the same time frame.

Some individuals use aggressive techniques to steal money to buy more drugs; others may be involved in the drug-trafficking, which often leads to violent crimes. For others, violence is a long-term side effect of the substance they abuse. Studies reveal individuals addicted to methamphetamine, for instance, may suffer from anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disorders, and aggressive or violent behavior.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Investigation Into How U.S. Prisoners Are Hurt Or Killed On The Job

Chain Gang Cuisine: The Bitter Taste of Prison Labor in Your Pantry

Journalists Margie Mason and Robin McDowell reported on a large-scale investigation into prison labor. In short, prisoners who are hurt or killed on the job are often being denied the rights and protections offered to other American workers. Their article discussed an  AP investigation into what has become a multibillion-dollar industry that often operates with little oversight.

“These prisoners are being placed in dangerous jobs, sometimes with little or no training. They pick up trash along busy highways, fight wildfires, and operate heavy machinery. They work on industrial-sized farms and meat-processing plants tied to the supply chains of some of the world’s most iconic brands and companies. But incarcerated workers and their families often have little or no recourse when things go wrong.” ~Journalists Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Associated Press

Here are takeaways from the latest installment of AP’s investigation:


Under the law, prisoners aren’t classified as employees. As a result, businesses can exclude them from workers’ compensation benefits, along with state and federal workplace safety standards. They cannot protest against poor conditions. They cannot form unions or strike. Some also can be punished for refusing to work, including being sent to solitary confinement. Finally, many work for pennies an hour – or nothing at all.


Prisoners work in poultry plants, sawmills and in industrial factories. In many states, laws mandate that they be deployed during disasters and emergencies for dangerous jobs like hazardous material cleanup. They’re also sent to fight fires. Unfortunately, prisoners who are injured on the job and decide to sue can face nearly insurmountable hurdles. These challenges include finding a lawyer willing to take the case.


A loophole in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed after the Civil War makes forced labor legal, abolishing slavery except “as punishment for a crime.” Today, nearly 2 million people are locked up in the U.S. Our prison population is the largest in the world. Interestingly, more than 800,000 prisoners have some kind of job. Many serve food inside facilities. Others work outside for private companies, including work-release assignments. They’re also employed at state and municipal agencies, and at colleges and nonprofit organizations.

My opinion? The findings are gut-wrenching. They point to a complex web of labor where prisoners in the United States are exploited for their work. These individuals, often paid mere pennies or nothing at all, toil under conditions devoid of basic human rights protections, contributing to the profits of some of the largest food corporations in the world.

Prison is a terrible place. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Washington State Ranked Among Top 10 Most Dangerous

Washington named eighth most dangerous state in 2024 study - Lynnwood Times

SOURCEThe Safest and Most Dangerous States in America 2024 – Simmrin Law Group

Apparently, crime rates in Washington State have been increasing. This comes despite the overall decrease in violent crime in the country.


A new study by the Simmrin Law Group analyzed crime data from the FBI and NIFRS to rank the safest and most dangerous states in the country.  Apparently, between 2020 and 2022, the rate of violent crime in the U.S. decreased from 398.5 incidents per 100,000 people to 380.7 incidents per 100,000 people, while the rate of violent crime in Washington has increased from 293.7 incidents to 375.6 incidents, an 81.9 rate increase. The study examined the frequency of various types of offenses, including assault, homicide, kidnapping, sex offenses, burglary, destruction/vandalism, theft, and robbery.


Although Washington is known for its picturesque natural beauty and for being a booming tech hub, the rise in crime hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Washington ranked eighth, with the highest larceny and theft rate and kidnapping and abduction rate. According to the study, the state has a larceny/theft rate of 2133.6 per 100,000 residents. In 2022, there were 1,327 kidnapping/abduction incidents and 1,454 offenses reported in Washington.

“Washington state, known for its tech industry and natural beauty, surprisingly contrasts with its efforts to become a safer place. The state sadly has a larceny/theft rate of 2133.6 per 100,000, among the highest on this list, indicating the need for continued focus on crime prevention.”

“Its Kidnapping/Abduction Rate of 16.3 per 100,000 indicates another area in much need of targeted interventions. These statistics underscore the importance of community-based safety programs and proactive law enforcement measures, which Washington cannot ignore any longer if they want to keep their good reputation.” ~Simrin Law Group Study

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Most Americans Cannot Believe Violent Crime is Decreasing

Reported violent crime rate in the U.S. 2022 | Statista

In an article from NPR, journalists , and report that Americans can’t believe that violent crime is decreasing.

In 2020, the United States experienced one of its most dangerous years in decades. According to FBI statistics, the number of murders across the country surged by nearly 30% between 2019 and 2020, The overall violent crime rate, which includes murder, assault, robbery and rape, inched up around 5% in the same period.

But in 2023, crime in America looked very different.


“At some point in 2022 — at the end of 2022 or through 2023 — there was just a tipping point where violence started to fall and it just continued to fall . . . The national picture shows that murder is falling. We have data from over 200 cities showing a 12.2% decline in 2023 relative to 2022.” ~Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics.

Citing his own analysis of public data, Mr. Asher also found instances of rape, robbery and aggravated assault were all down too. Yet when you ask people about crime in the country, the perception is it’s getting a lot worse.


Gallup poll released in November found 77% of Americans believed there was more crime in the country than the year before. And 63% felt there was either a “very” or “extremely” serious crime problem — the highest in the poll’s history going back to 2000. So what’s going on?


For cities like San Francisco, Baltimore and Minneapolis, there may be different factors at play. And in some instances, it comes as the number of police officers declines, too.

Baltimore police are chronically short of their recruitment goal, and as of last September had more than 750 vacant positions, according to a state audit report. In Minneapolis, police staffing has plummeted. According to the Star Tribune, there are about 560 active officers — down from nearly 900 in 2019.

In Minneapolis, the city is putting more financial resources into nontraditional policing initiatives. The Department of Neighborhood Safety, which addresses violence through a public health lens, received $22 million in the 2024 budget. And in San Francisco, police there say they’ve been better at making arrests.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a violent crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Prison: No Country For Old Men

These are the 20 oldest prisoners doing time in New Jersey -

Excellent article in NPR by journalist Meg Anderson reports that the proportion of state and federal prisoners who are 55 or older is about five times what it was three decades ago. In 2022, that was more than 186,000 people.

In Oklahoma, the geriatric population has quadrupled in the past two decades. In Virginia, a quarter of the state’s prisoners will be geriatric by 2030. And in Texas, geriatric inmates are the fastest-growing demographic in the entire system.

More elderly people in prison is largely a sentencing problem, says Marta Nelson, the director of sentencing reform at the Vera Institute of Justice, a criminal justice research organization.

“It all stems from the longer sentences and the longer length of time that people have had to spend serving sentences in the United States, really starting from the ’70s and ’80s, but which became quite well known in the ’90s . . . People who went in as young people then are now aging. So it’s really a story of how we choose to punish people.” ~Marta Nelson, Director of Sentencing Reform at the Vera Institute of Justice

For instance, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, commonly known as the 1994 crime bill, incentivized states to build more prisons and keep people in those prisons for a longer percentage of their sentences. Other tough-on-crime policies — like mandatory minimum sentences and “three strikes” laws, in which the punishments for repeat offenders severely ratchet up — also contributed to why many people who went to prison decades ago are still there.

Today, there are more people serving a life sentence in prison than there were people in prison at all in 1970, according to a 2021 report from the Sentencing Project, an advocacy organization.

Caring for aging prisoners is expensive, but the data on just how expensive is murky. A 2013 study estimated it could be anywhere from three to nine times more expensive than for younger prisoners. And a 2015 report from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General found that federal prisons with the highest percentage of elderly prisoners spent five times more per person on medical care than those with the lowest percentage of aging prisoners.

My opinion? The idea of releasing elderly prisoners is certainly controversial. As a society, we must be careful about who we incarcerate. Sometimes, prisons don’t make people better. They make people worse.

Prison is a terrible place. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Gallup Poll Says More Americans Believe Crime is Becoming Extremely Serious

Is Crime on the Rise? - Point of View - Point of View

Informative article from the Hill journalist Nick Robertson discussed a Gallup poll showing nearly two-thirds of Americans believe crime is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem in the U.S. The 63 percent rate is the highest collected by Gallup, with the previous high of 60 percent found in 2000, 2010 and 2016.

Nationally, about three-quarters of Americans believe crime has gone up. This perspective underlines the tough-on-crime political narrative of conservative politicians. Republicans were significantly more likely to believe that crime is going up nationally. In fact, 92 percent of Republicans hold that belief compared to 58 percent of Democrats. Republican respondents also believed national crime was a more serious issue, 78 percent to 51 percent of Democrats.

Gallup’s self-reporting of crime victimhood has also increased. A fifth of respondents said someone in their household was a victim of a crime this year, near a record high. Most of those reported crimes were vandalism and car break-ins, according to the poll.

But the increase in crime perception could also be a result of frequent messaging about crime through politics and the increase in murders in some cities, which draws attention in media, Gallup said.

Despite an increase in attention, crime is still only the most important issue to 3 percent of Americans, according to a separate Gallup poll, a stark contrast to 1994, when crime was the top issue for more than 40 percent of respondents. The figure hasn’t crossed 10 percent since the recession.


It sounds unreal, farfetched, or even crazy to say that “poverty is illegal.” However, the prosecution of poverty is an ongoing issue in our country. When you look at the frequency people are incarcerated because they can’t pay fees for speeding tickets and other small infractions, it’s heartbreaking. There are 2.2 million people locked up on any given day in the U.S. according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Countless people living in poverty are forced to plead guilty when they are, in fact, innocent. The injustice happens because they simply cannot afford the legal fees to fight the case against them. Forty-three states charge for a public defender. Fines for less than $200 might keep someone in jail due to the “pay or stay” system. Courts rarely ask if a defendant has the ability to pay rather than their willingness to pay. Overuse of incarceration is negatively impacting families, causes job loss and a myriad of other problems.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Criminal convictions and incarceration are terrible consequences that deeply affect one’s livelihood and family. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.