Washington Governor Unveils New Process To Commute Hundreds Of Drug Possession Sentences

MJ moment

The governor of Washington State on Monday unveiled a new process through which hundreds of people with low-level drug convictions can apply for a commutation of their sentence. In February, the state Supreme Court made the surprising decision to invalidate a statute criminalizing drug possession because it did not require the person to knowingly be in possession. Lawmakers then took up the issue, with some seeking the reinstate criminalization and others hoping to codify decriminalization. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill in May that fell somewhere in the middle, making it so those caught in possession of illicit substances would be referred to a health evaluation and possible treatment for their first two violations, allowing them to avoid arrest and a criminal record. Now the governor is pushing for expedited clemency for eligible individuals under the new policy. Those on active community supervision for low-level drug possession convictions can directly petition Inslee for a commutation in light of the court’s earlier ruling. “I am committed to doing what I can to try to remedy the situation and assist the courts who are doing what they can to get through this backlog of cases,” Inslee said in a press release. “I want to thank the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) and State Office of Public Defense (OPD) for stepping up to help me provide clemency relief to eligible petitioners.” The governor’s office says that there are more than 1,200 people with drug possession convictions who qualify for the relief. While state courts have taken some steps to provide the clemency on their own, Inslee says the coronavirus pandemic has caused a backlog, which is why this new gubernatorial process is needed. In April, Inslee took an initial step of commuting the sentences of a handful of people incarcerated on…

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Source : Washington Governor Unveils New Process To Commute Hundreds Of Drug Possession Sentences

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