A former Franklin County corrections officer convicted of having sexual contact with female inmates should not get a break on his jail sentence because he has had medical issues, an assistant attorney general said Wednesday.
Justin T. Husom’s release in December — just three months into his 10-month term — was out of medical necessity, and not due to a mistake on the part of the Franklin County jail or the state, argued Tienney K. Milnor.
When Husom was let go on a medical furlough, he knew he was required to return to jail to serve the balance of his sentence as soon as a doctor medically cleared him, Milnor said. The vast majority of the time he has been out did not require hospitalization, so he shouldn’t be given credit for that.
Husom, 42, was back in Franklin County Superior Court on Wednesday after his lawyer, Scott Johnson, filed a motion asking that his client be given credit for his “time at liberty.”
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That would make Husom a free man so he doesn’t have to report back to the jail by May 29.
Under the Equitable Doctrine, a court has discretion to give credit for time spent at liberty when the convicted person was “erroneously at liberty due to the state’s negligence, provided that the convicted person has not contributed to his release, has not absconded legal obligations while at liberty, and has had no further criminal convictions.”
Milnor countered that Husom doesn’t meet the requirements because he was not erroneously or negligently released, and “he contributed to his release by declining to return himself to the jail and instead requested to remain out of jail for alleged recovery purposes.”
Both Milnor and Judge Michael G. McCarthy with Yakima County Superior Court appeared by speakerphone for the hearing.
Husom remains out of custody, even though the jail roster shows he is locked up and has served 243 days. He was in court with his attorney.
McCarthy told both sides he wanted more time to review case law before reaching a decision later Wednesday. He said he would mail a copy of his order to the attorneys and the court.
Husom resigned from his job of more than three years after an investigation revealed he had sexual contact with two female inmates in exchange for contraband.
He pleaded guilty last summer to felony first-degree custodial sexual misconduct, along with two gross misdemeanor charges of second-degree custodial sexual misconduct and official misconduct.
McCarthy ordered Husom to serve 10 months in the same jail where he used to work. He twice turned down Husom’s request to do the time on work release or on home detention.
Then on Dec. 11, Husom was released from the jail because he had “been experiencing medical issues due to kidney stones” and was in Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco for the third time in a week.
The furlough document showed if Husom had stayed in custody since his Sept. 12 sentencing, he was expected to have a release date of March 31. That means he would have served 61/2 months with time off for good behavior.
The document does not show the author, but it was on Franklin County Correctional Center letterhead with then-Sheriff Richard Lathim, then-Capt. Rick Long and current Lt. Mike Monk.
The author noted speaking with Deputy Prosecutor Dave Corkrum and being directed to call the Attorney General’s Office in Seattle, which handled the case to avoid a possible conflict of interest for Franklin County.
The document concluded that a furlough was issued until Husom is physically recovered and cleared by a doctor.
“If he needs surgery or more tests or recovery time, please take care of that before turning yourself in for the remainder of your jail commit,” said the document, which was signed by Husom.
Milnor cited case law in stating that a furlough is generally defined as a leave of absence.
In February, McCarthy was surprised to learn that Husom had been out of custody for two months and he was never asked by jail administrators to approve the medical emergency furlough. At that time, McCarthy said he would give Husom time to recover and recuperate before he needed to report back to jail.
Johnson said Wednesday that his client “took responsibility for making a mistake,” yet the government won’t do the same and Husom shouldn’t be held at fault for his release.
Milnor asked the judge to deny the defense motion and order Husom back to jail.
Even if McCarthy finds that Husom has met the requirements for the Equitable Doctrine, the court should not exercise its discretion due to the serious nature of Husom’s crimes, she said.
“In this case, Husom was entrusted with the care and safety of both of these inmates,” Milnor said. “Husom violated that trust when he engaged in sexual conduct with those inmates, thereby committing the offenses for which he is under sentence.”