Photograph of downtown Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background.

Tiffany Von Arnim

Officials in Seattle, Washington have filed a motion in Seattle Municipal Court to vacate all convictions for misdemeanor cannabis possession for anyone arrested in the city – a total of 542 people. Mayor Jenny Durkan said her office made the request because “it makes little sense for so many in [Seattle] to be punished for conduct that is no longer illegal under state law.”

“Our system is supposed to be a system of justice, and this is an important step forward for justice for all residents of our City. I hope these actions we’re taking here in Seattle can lay the foundation for other cities, counties and state to act, too.” – Durkan in a press release

Durkan called the request a first step to fix the state’s criminal justice system “and address all the damage done to our communities by the war on drugs.”

“We must provide more effective alternatives to prosecution and incarceration through drug and mental health courts, restoring rights and supporting re-entry. Our actions must go far beyond the realm of criminal justice reform; it will require us to make our City more affordable, close the opportunity gap through free community college and technical training, and to continue the hard work of building trust between our community and the Seattle Police Department.” – Durkan in the statement.

Durkan first laid out the plan in a February op-ed in The Stranger. Durkan is credited with creating one of the nation’s first federal drug courts as a U.S. attorney under President Barack Obama.

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