PRESS RELEASE: Update on Supreme Court Ruling That Voids Statute Has Potential Implications for Sentences Imposed by Courts
Released March 12, 2021
Contact Rachel Ericson (email), (360) 725-8212
TUMWATER – On February 25, 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court issued an opinion in State of Washington v. Blake (pdf), declaring that RCW 69.50.4013 (Washington’s simple possession of a controlled substance statute) violates the due process clause of the state and federal constitutions and is therefore void.
The role of the Washington State Department of Corrections is to carry out sentences imposed by courts. The department does not have the authority to amend or correct judgments and sentences. The department cannot unilaterally correct a judgment and sentence and must wait for the court to issue an order vacating conviction, amending judgment, dismissal or directing release. The department is working with the Office of the Attorney General to understand the decision and its potential impacts.
Previously, we identified a number of potentially impacted individuals with a conviction of simple possession as noted below.
Estimated Number of Individuals as of February 28, 2021, Impacted with a Conviction of Simple Possession
- Fewer than 100 people statewide who are incarcerated only on a simple possession conviction
- Fewer than 7,000 people statewide who have been sentenced to community supervision on a simple possession conviction
In addition to these previously shared numbers, we have now identified a further tier of individuals potentially impacted. These individuals have a conviction of simple possession, as well as an additional conviction(s).
Estimated Number of Individuals as of February 28, 2021, Impacted with a Conviction of Simple Possession and an Additional Conviction
- Fewer than 2,600 people statewide who are incarcerated on a simple possession conviction and an additional conviction(s)
- Fewer than 3,900 people statewide who are serving community supervision on a simple possession and an additional conviction
The department will continue to work with stakeholders involved with the courts to assess the impacts and the implications of State v. Blake as the courts determine which cases, convictions, and individuals, are affected.