More than four years later, this fact leads to a Washington State Supreme Court ruling striking Washington’s drug ownership law; the anticipated retirement of decades of tens of thousands of criminal convictions and the overhaul of the state’s approach to drug possession that Gov. Jay Inslee signed on Thursday.The jeans were by Goodwill from American Eagle and too short for their new owner Shannon Bowman. They were 6-foot.
Bowman therefore stitched a few inches of denim on the base of the legs and put it on for the first time two days after her friend gave it to her. She did not notice in the coin pocket a tiny, almost empty baggie of methamphetamine.
The jeans were by Goodwill from American Eagle and too short for their new owner Shannon Bowman. They were 6-foot.signed on Thursday.
“It’s cool that many people have a second chance to correct things,” Bowman said in a recent interview. “They’re hoping they’re going down a good road.”
Instead of the offence it was under the old law, the act signed by Inslee makes drug possession a misdemeanour. Inslee said the measure would “aid to reduce the disparate impact on people of colour of the previous drug possession statute.”
“It moves the system from responding to possession as a crime to concentrating on behavioural health responses, which is a much better and more successful way to meet the needs underlying drug abuse,” said the governor.
Oregon was the only other state this year to decriminalise small amounts of all drugs and increase access to treatment. The measure from Washington also aims to expand treatment and outreach services considerably, including for homeless persons with serious behavioural health problems.
The Washington measure requires that police divert the first two crimes of the defendant into treatment before it even reaches the prosecutor and if the case of the defendant reaches the prosecutor the public prosecutor can divert as well. Regional “recovery navigator” teams will be created to assist “all people with drug abuse disorder” in providing ongoing, quick and wide-ranging access to a comprehensive care continuum.
The provision classifying drug possession as an offence ends in two years, reverting without prohibition to current law. It gives lawmakers time to reassess how the state’s new policies work and potentially identify a long-term drug policy strategy.
The 5-4 decision in Bowman’s case, known as the Blake Decision, as she hadn’t used her nickname for more than twenty years, held that Washington’s drug law was unconstitutional, since it did not require prosecutioners to demonstrate that an accused had drugs knowingly. That left small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and meth, legally permitted by state law, even for children.
The judges issued the decision in February well into the Olympic legislature. Lawmakers have been struggling to write a new law.
Bowman, 43, lives now on her parents’ property, in a motor home north of Spokane, near Kettle Falls. She worked as a logger, but her felony kept her from renting her own place for a long time.
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