A very good editorial opinion was posted in the Seattle Times on June 1, 2021 – When crimes mix with addiction, drug court offers solutions. It was written by Judge Lum of the King County Superior Court, and Christina Mason, program manager for the King County Drug Court.
The piece covered the convergence of State v. Blake (the case that declared unconstitutional Washington’s strict liability possession statute – invalidating thousands of felony drug convictions) and the King County Drug Diversion Court’s (‘KCDDC’) ever expanding direction to help those addicted to drugs. This is so because KCDDC – unlike other courts in-and-around Washington State – elected to move beyond just simple drug possession crimes several years ago. The court broadened its scope to include felony crimes that involved drugs like vehicle theft, residential burglary and identity theft. The court is geared to assist those addicted to drugs, not just those who are found to be in possession of drugs. Often folks are committing crimes to support their drug habit. It has been determined that assistance is more productive than punishment for those people who have had their lives turned upside down by drugs.
Those who complete KCDDC’s program get their charges dismissed – and perhaps that proverbial ‘new lease on life’. Most in the system are homeless and need help, not punishment. The program provides not only drug treatment, and access to desperately needed medications, but also other programs to bridge the gap and get the program’s participants stable. The program’s success is based on “contingency management’. Participants are rewarded for meeting program goals, and suffer consequences if the goals are not attained. KCDDC has been proven to reduce recidivism, decrease homelessness and improve employment rates.
Give the article a read for a better understanding of how the ruling of State v. Blake and the King County Drug Diversion Court have intersected.
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