Facing sentencing Wednesday for threatening the life of a U.S. District Court judge, a 30-year-old man asked that he be sent to federal prison so that he can finally get the mental health treatment that he needs.
“I just want to apologize for the acts I committed. I’m just asking you to have mercy on me, forgive me and please get me some help,” Kashif Washington told a judge before he was sentenced to 11 months for his crimes.
Washington pleaded guilty in April to a seven-count indictment that included charges of threatening to assault a federal official, mailing threatening communications, as well as threatening to destroy a building by means of an explosive.
The threats were discovered in a letter addressed to 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson and targeted District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy, the indictment stated.
Speaking on Washington’s behalf, attorney Ann Walsh asked District Judge David Norton, who presided over the hearing, to set the sentence consecutive to a state sentence Washington is currently serving for similar charges. Norton agreed.
In that case, Washington mailed two letters threatening to kill a state prosecutor and blow up a post office on the Charleston peninsula.
“I don’t like the fact of you being my solicitor,” one of those letters stated, according to a Charleston County Sheriff’s Office incident report. “So when I do get out of prison I am going to kill you, your Kids and if you have a husband as well. So you better leave this state.”
Washington was in custody at the Charleston County jail when those letters were sent. He’s currently serving five-year sentences at the state Department of Corrections for two counts of threatening the life of a public official and 15 years for making a bomb threat, records show.
Walsh told the judge that Washington has a history of mental illness and would prefer to serve his federal sentence consecutive to his state sentence so that he can receive proper treatment before re-entering society.
“Federal treats me better than state,” Washington told the judge, adding that he wasn’t receiving any mental health services at the state facility.
The Corrections Department is currently in the process of adding more mental health workers throughout the prison system after being ordered nearly two years ago to improve its care of inmates. The 45-page order given by Circuit Judge Michael Baxley was the result of a class-action lawsuit that blamed several inmate deaths on the state for failing to meet a constitutionally mandated standard of care. The suit also revealed that prisoner screenings failed to flag hundreds of inmates who needed mental health treatment.
The Corrections Department reported last month that it has made progress toward meeting the order with additional state funding.
Washington will be eligible for parole on his state charges in 2017 and is scheduled to complete that sentence in 2024. He will be transferred to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon his release from state custody. He was ordered to complete any necessary mental health treatment while serving an additional three years of supervised release, Norton ordered.
Reach Christina Elmore at 843-937-5908.