Rep. Walsh looking to fund indigent defense with marijuana money

Representative Jim Walsh is looking to bring more money to counties for indigent defense.

In pre-filed HB 2301, 19th District Representative Jim Walsh is asking legislators to appropriate money from marijuana sales to fund legal services for indigent defendants in criminal cases.

The Grays Harbor County Commissioners have expressed their concerns about the costs associated with indigent defense for some time.

In the pre-filed bill, scheduled to be seen before legislators when they return to session in January, a portion of monies received from marijuana related activities would be used for these costs beginning July 1, 2019.

33.3% of the funds from marijuana would be sent out to counties pro rata, and counties “must use the funds for the sole purpose of funding legal services for indigent defendants in criminal cases”.

Beginning 12 July 1, 2019, 33.3 percent of all moneys in the dedicated marijuana account must be appropriated annually to the treasurer for distribution to counties on a pro rata basis in accordance with the requirements of this subsection (1).

(a) The moneys distributed to an individual county under this subsection must be equal to that county’s proportional share of the total appropriation authorized under this subsection. The dollar amount of this proportional share must be calculated on a pro rata basis as determined by reference to the total excise tax revenues collected pursuant to RCW 69.50.535 from licensees located in the cities, towns, and unincorporated areas within that county.

(b) A county receiving a distribution under this subsection must use the funds for the sole purpose of funding legal services for indigent defendants in criminal cases;

In August, the commissioners approved a grant application for just under $75,000 from the Washington State Office of Public Defense but Commissioners Vickie Raines and Randy Ross said at that time that it is not nearly enough to pay for the state mandated cost.


 

The county does budget for the cost of indigent defense but according to the commissioners the total depends on the amount and type of cases the county has.

In 2016 Grays Harbor received approximately $78,000 from the state compared to a final cost of just under $1.2 million. As of August, the cost for 2017 was already over $760,000.

 

 

Photo from Marijuana.com

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