Taxpayer $$ To Be Used to Help Clear Local Drug Convictions
In case you didn't know, the Washington State Supreme Court not long ago ruled that personal possession of drugs such as meth, heroin, fentanyl, coke, and others is not illegal. It was called the Blake Decision.
Grants awarded to counties to help clear criminal records
If a person finds their conviction has been overturned, they can have it expunged or cleared, but that does cost money.
Now the Washington State Office of Public Defense has been awarding grants to various counties, the money will be utilized by persons wishing to clear their records. The OPD cannot directly represent persons in legal matters, but they offer a wide range of services and assistance to those who are in financial need. It was created by a vote of the Legislature in 1996.
According to the Office of Financial Management, it is taxpayer-funded, its money comes from the budget. Therefore, any grants it hands out are taxpayer money.
Taxpayer money is being used to clear drug conviction records
On the surface, that may sound noble--helping people clear their records. But when you consider the circumstances of why they are trying to do so, there's a different perspective.
The Blake Decision nullified tens of thousands of legal convictions, it is retroactive. Law enforcement has used possession as a key tool in fighting drugs. Often, a person arrested for possession is able to provide information about dealers, drug rings, and more serious crimes. Now, that's gone away.
Benton County receives grant to help expunge these records.
Benton is one of the counties that has received one of these new grants, NONE of it is local tax dollars, but again, it is state-funded, so it's still taxpayer money.
In a nutshell, a controversial State Supreme Court decision that legalizes personal possession of serious drugs and narcotics is resulting in state taxpayer dollars being used to help clear criminal records of those whose convictions are being overturned.
We have reached out to Benton County to find out how much the grant is for, we will update this story when we obtain that information.
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