Sentencing

Resources

Published: 
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
When a juvenile is caught using or sharing an illegal drug, what is the appropriate community response? Should he or she be arrested and charged with a crime, or should he or she receive public health services?
Published: 
Friday, September 4, 2015
The War on Drugs has left thousands of people locked up under sentencing laws now widely viewed as discriminatory and not based in fact. An ACLU-WA brief is taking aim at the effects of an egregious Drug War policy: the lengthy sentences being served because of the government’s wrongheaded distinction between crack and powder cocaine, resulting in a 100:1 crack-powder disparity in sentences.
Published: 
Friday, June 10, 2011
In a case (State v. Monday) that drew front-page coverage in today’s Seattle Times, the Washington Supreme Court has issued a strong ruling that racist comments by a prosecutor undermine the fundamental right to a fair trial.
Published: 
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I can understand why many people in Seattle are angry that Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk will not be charged with murder. If you or I intentionally shot and killed someone who was not an immediate threat to us, we would be charged with murder or at the very least manslaughter. But the law treats police officers differently. In 1986, Washington’s legislature passed a law that allows police officers to escape criminal charges for killing a person so long as the officer had a good faith belief that his actions were justified and he acted “without malice.” This law protects the officer even if his “good faith belief” was wrong. So, it is not surprising that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg believed that he would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Birk murdered John T. Williams.
Published: 
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The ACLU of Washington has filed a friend-of-the-court brief saying that the firing of an employee for using marijuana at home for medicinal purposes was wrongful. The ACLU brief urges that the rights of individuals under our state’s medical marijuana law be protected. The Washington Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the employee’s case on January 18, 2011.
Published: 
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Next month, the King County District Court will hold an inquest into the August 30, 2010, fatal shooting of First Nations carver John T. Williams by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk.  An inquest looks like a trial, so you might imagine that we will soon learn whether Officer Birk committed a crime or will be found civilly liable for killing Mr. Williams, right?  Well, probably not.  The one thing that inquest juries cannot do is to determine liability.
Published: 
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
A broken criminal justice system doesn’t just affect felons, it impacts us. In an insightful article in The Pacific Northwest Inlander correspondent Leah Sottile discusses the many challenges individuals with criminal convictions face long after they’ve paid their debts to society. These “collateral consequences” hurt not only ex-felons, but also their children, as when their families cannot get stable and safe housing. A single mother with a non-violent drug conviction over 20 years old notes that she’s “going to have to move into a place that’s dangerous for my children…My children now have to grow up around the same things that influenced me to become a felon.”
Published: 
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Next Tuesday, Californians will vote on the historic Proposition 19, which would decriminalize adult possession and growing of marijuana for personal use. It would also allow cities and counties to adopt regulations permitting the commercial production and distribution of cannabis to consumers. More importantly, Proposition 19 would represent a huge step forward in ending the civil liberties and civil rights abuses fostered by the War on Drugs, like racist enforcement of drug prohibition. Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Defense attorney Mark Larrañaga visits Bellingham to speak about his experience as an attorney for defendants facing the death penalty. How many people does an execution affect? Prior to hearing Mark Larrañaga’s insights into the vast reaches of the death penalty, I naturally assumed that the defendant, his or her family, the victim(s), and the victim’s family were the principle people affected by the death penalty. I never considered how deeply jurors, attorneys, and their families can be affected. Years after a trial had come to an end, some jurors’ family members are brought to tears just talking about it. These persons are often so affected by the lengthy, emotionally straining process of a death penalty trial that they too often turn to substance abuse to help them cope. “He’s never been the same. He started hitting the bottle pretty hard when the trial ended,” one woman said of her husband’s experience as a juror. Mr. Larrañaga has become so keenly aware of how traumatizing a death penalty trial can be that in many of his cases he has requested that counselors be available to all involved parties after the trial is concluded. Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Last week saw the release of two annual federal government reports which highlight the pervasiveness of Marijuana in the U.S. Unfortunately, only one of these reports received attention from U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. Read more

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