State v. F.T.

F.T. was sentenced to nearly 7 times the Juvenile Justice Act sentencing guidelines’ recommendation for shoplifting only $97 worth of candy and clothing. With no prior criminal record, a dependency case against her parents, and a history as a victim of sex trafficking and prostitution, the court determined that F.T. needed a long period of detention to provide her with treatment and structure. The Court of Appeals upheld her sentence.

Juvenile Law Center joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, the Mockingbird Society, TeamChild, and Columbia Legal Services in filing an amicus brief in support of a petition for review of F.T.’s case to the Supreme Court of Washington. We argued that review should be granted because F.T.’s sentence was not supported by any valid aggravating factors, rather she was punished excessively, in direct violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, under a paternalistic view of providing protection and treatment due to her gender and history of trauma, abuse, and victimization.

The case was stayed pending the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in State v. B.O.J. Following the Court’s decision in B.O.J., the State requested that F.T.’s conviction be vacated and her case dismissed, and the trial court granted the request.