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Sentence Review Board Member Tom Sahlberg Retires

March 24, 2017

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

Tom in hiking gear standing on large rocks near a river

Indeterminate Sentence Review Board Member Tom Sahlberg (Photo courtesy of Tom Sahlberg)

TUMWATER – Tom Sahlberg, a longtime member of the Department of Corrections' Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB), has announced his retirement, effective April 15.

Former Governor Christine Gregoire appointed Sahlberg to the board in 2007 and he was reappointed by Governor Inslee in 2012. Prior to serving on the ISRB, Sahlberg worked for the Spokane Police Department for 26 years. After this, he served as the Victim/Witness Coordinator for the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office. He also participated on the Sentencing Guidelines Commission, Sex Offender Policy Board, Association of Paroling Authorities International, and the Spokane County Regional Law and Justice Council.

"There are many people who helped me along the way," Sahlberg said. "People at every level have been my mentors during my time on the board and it has been an honor and pleasure to serve with them."

The ISRB reviews cases and conducts prison release and violation hearings, deciding whether to release individuals. It also provides crime victims' services to people impacted by crimes committed by those now under the Board's jurisdiction. This includes those sentenced for the most serious crimes prior to July 1, 1984, certain sex crimes committed on or after Sept. 1, 2001 and some who were convicted of crimes under the age of 18 and were sentenced as adults.

Sahlberg says deciding whether a person is released from or sent back to prison is the crux of the work of the board. These decisions require consideration of community safety and the changes an individual makes during his or her time in prison.

Since he began his public service, Tom has seen law enforcement and corrections evolve and believes that Washington state is often at the forefront of reform.

"The Washington Department of Corrections leads most other criminal justice agencies using evidence-based practices and 'Smart Justice' in its handling of both inmates and those released to the community under supervision," Sahlberg said. "We are making demonstrable progress in focusing limited resources on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation which can reduce recidivism and bring about positive changes in both attitudes and behavior. This is a win-win for the community and the individual who becomes a contributing member of the public."

As he prepares to leave the ISRB, Sahlberg has some thoughts for whomever will take his place.

"Be open-minded and able to come to consensus with different perspectives," Sahlberg said. "Each person brings unique work and life experiences to the discussions and decisions. Listen well, speak up and let all the available information and discussion inform your decisions."

After retirement, Sahlberg is looking forward to spending more time with family, friends, volunteering at community organizations and hiking in as many National Parks as possible.

About the ISRB: The Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (formerly known as the Board of Prison Terms and Parolees) was created in 1986. It serves as a quasi-judicial board located within the Department of Corrections. The governor appoints members of the ISRB. All members serve five-year terms.