Inslee commutes sentences of 13 inmates serving for low-level drug offenses


OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee commuted the sentences of 13 people serving serious time after being convicted for low-level drug possession charges in the state of Washington. This comes shortly after the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a certain state law that deems simple drug possession a crime.

According to representatives from the Governor’s Office, Inslee is expected to commute the sentences of two other individuals today on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Individuals whose sentences have been commuted are released from the custody of the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC).

On February 25, 2021, a majority of Washington state Supreme Court justices agreed that the law, which restricted possession of useable marijuana, marijuana concentrates, or marijuana-infused products, was unconstitutional. Their determination was based on the fact that “it did not require prosecutors prove a suspect knowingly or intentionally possessed contraband.”

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By coming to this determination, the Supreme Court was able to invalidate the statute, which was the basis for many criminal convictions in the state of Washington over the years. Many of the individuals directly impacted by these laws were serving time in state prisons while in DOC custody.

The people who are directly impacted by these commutations from Governor Inslee were solely convicted based on the restrictions imposed by this law. State prosecutors and courts are doing their best to clear the convictions against eligible people, but Gov. Inslee is using his power to expedite the process in some specific scenarios.

Washington state voters approved Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalized the possession and use of small doses of marijuana for adults age 21+. The state’s first recreational cannabis/marijuana stores opened in 2014. Seven years later, state leaders including Governor Inslee are freeing incarcerates who were convicted for possession of something that’s since become legal.

If you’d like to read the Supreme Court opinions that sparked this decision, click here.


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