OLYMPIA, Washington – Following a landmark decision in the Washington State v. Blake case – ruling simple drug possession laws unconstitutional in February 2021 – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee commuted the sentences of 350 low-intensity drug offenders.
As part of the new process established by criteria decided in the Blake decision, Inslee opened a petition process to commute the sentences of those under active community supervision to certain drug possession convictions.
This law applies to accused persons alone on drug convictions that are no longer valid under Washington state law. People who have been convicted of other crimes are not eligible to participate in this process, although seeking a new conviction may be an option for some offenders.
READ: New Washington state law makes drug possession a crime
“COVID has created countless challenges in our criminal justice system. And that of February Blake decision compounded these challenges, ”Inslee said. “Although the state Supreme Court overturned the drug possession convictions of thousands of people, many of these people were unable to appear in court to have their convictions overturned and overturned even six months later. the Supreme Court decision. “
The governor’s office confirms that there are currently 1,200 people under the supervision of the Department of Corrections (DOC) with convictions overturned since.
In May 2021, Inslee signed a new law that converts petty drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Not only did this paved the way for some non-violent convicts to earn new lives, but it also helped bridge a systemic gap that has disproportionately impacted minority populations in Washington state.
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Inslee commuted the sentences of 13 people in mid-April to begin this statewide change. He has since commuted the sentences of hundreds of other Washingtonians. Even so, there appear to be hundreds more waiting for their opportunity to be released.
“I am committed to doing what I can to try to remedy the situation and help the courts that are doing what they can to overcome this backlog of cases,” said Inslee. “I would like to thank the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Washington State Public Defense Office (OPD) for stepping up their assistance to help me grant a remedy. thanks to eligible applicants. “
In addition to commuting these sentences, the Governor offers relief to eligible individuals who are required to pay legal fees for their previous convictions and to complete this commutation process.
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