On February 25, 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court issued an opinion in State of Washington v. Blake, declaring RCW 69.50.4013, Washington’s simple possession of a controlled substance statute, violates the due process clause of the state and federal constitutions and is therefore void. This means Blake convictions from 1971 to 2021 may be vacated, amended, dismissed, etc. by an order from the court. In May 2023, the Washington State Legislature amended RCW 69.50.4013 to provide ongoing direction for possession related offenses.
The role of the Washington State Department of Corrections is to carry out sentences imposed by courts. Corrections does not have the authority to amend or correct judgments and sentences. The department cannot unilaterally correct a judgment and sentence and must wait for the court to issue an order vacating conviction, amending judgment, dismissal or directing release. This means that further direction from the courts continues to be necessary in the process of determining next steps.
The Department worked with the Washington State Office of the Attorney General to understand the decision and DOC impacts. The Department coordinates with many criminal justice groups such as the Superior Court Judges Association, Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Washington State Office of Public Defense, and the Administrative Office of the Courts to appropriately respond to the Blake decision.
Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) policies that are relevant to the Blake decision.
- DOC 200.000 Trust Accounts for Incarcerated Individuals
- DOC 350.200 Transition and Release
- DOC 590.500 Legal Access for Incarcerated Individuals
Below are Department of Corrections (DOC) forms that are relevant to the Blake decision.
- DOC 09-012 Request for Unclaimed Property
- DOC 06-065 Blake Cost of Supervision Refund Address Verification
Laws & Regulations
Below are the federal laws, state laws (RCWs) and regulations (WACs) that apply to and/or relate to the Blake decision.
Washington State Legislature
- SB 5536 – 2023-24 – Concerning controlled substances, counterfeit substances, and legend drug possession and treatment.
Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
- RCW 69.50.4013 - Possession of controlled substance—Penalty—Possession of useable cannabis, cannabis concentrates, or cannabis-infused products—Delivery. (Effective until July 1, 2023.)
- RCW 72.09.480 - Inmate funds subject to deductions—Definitions—Exceptions—Child support collection actions.
Below are the publications that apply to and/or relate to the Blake decision.
- Blake Impacts 300-GU007
- County Prosecutors for Requesting Blake Relief
Department of Corrections
- News Spotlight: State of Washington v. Blake (doc.wa.gov)
- PRESS RELEASE: Update on Supreme Court Ruling That Voids Statute Has Potential Implications for Sentences Imposed by Courts (Released 3/12/2021)
- PRESS RELEASE: Supreme Court Ruling That Voids Statute Has Potential Implications for Sentences Imposed by Courts (Released 3/5/2021)
- Administrative Office of the Courts
- Blake Refund Bureau
- Blake Refund Bureau Will Launch in July (Released June 12, 2023)
- In Wake of 'Blake,' 1,500 Drug Convictions Scrubbed in Snohomish County (Released October 8, 2023)
- Superior Court Judges Association
- Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
- Washington State Office of the Attorney General
- Washington State Office of Public Defense
- Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission
- Washington State Supreme Court