Dateline Wednesday Feb 26th
SHERIFF ELFO STATEMENT ON WA SUPREME COURT RELEASING DRUG POSSESSION CONVICTIONS AND CASES.
Here is the Sheriff’s statement on changes in the law:
“DRUG POSSESSION LAW NOW UNCONSTITUTIONAL in WASHINGTON STATE
This morning the Washington State Supreme Court overturned long-standing precedent and held that the criminal statute prohibiting the possession of controlled substances (narcotics) is now unconstitutional. Deputies will no longer be able to take enforcement action when encountering persons engaged in narcotics use or in simple possession.
While many argue that narcotics possession might be better treated as a public health rather than a criminal justice issue, drug offenses at all levels often lead to crime of violence, property crime and public/neighborhood disorder. The enforcement of laws prohibiting the possession of narcotics also lead to the identification of dealers, the disruption of organized criminal enterprises and treatment referrals for users and those possessing small quantities through the law enforcement assisted diversion program, drug court and other options. This decision will eliminate incentives for the addicted to cooperate, seek treatment and stop the work of getting people who will not accept voluntary placement in a stabilization center, into a safe environment where they can receive detox and life-saving medical treatment.
Some may argue that this decision will reduce the jail population. Today there are 217 people held in jail by order of the courts and “zero” are there solely for simple possession of narcotics.
Deputies can still charge people with delivery of drugs but with today’s decision, investigative strategies, the ability to implement street diversion and get people into treatment have been severely limited.