Tarra Simmons Presses for Diversion of Sentencing and Vacating Convictions in Revising Washington State Drug Possession Law

Tarra Simmons (’17), Representative of the 23rd District, Washington State Legislature, was quoted in PubliCola discussing recent efforts to revise Washington’s expiring drug possession law with Governor Inslee calling for a special legislative session (“Drug Possession Bill Moves Forward with Less Punitive Approach,” Apr. 7). Tarra contributed to a striker amendment which passed the house Appropriations committee, stating, “When you have that stigma of the criminal record on your record forever, it limits where you can go in the future.” Relating her own experiences with substance abuse and incarceration, she said, “It was traumatic not only for me, but for my children” (ages 8 and 18 at the time). “When you’re in jail, it’s not a trauma-informed therapeutic environment. Nobody’s getting better in jail,” adding, “I strongly believe that substance use disorder is a health issue.” On the imperative to pass state legislation, Tarra warned, “If we don’t do something, then the local jurisdictions will create their own ordinances and we’ll have a patchwork across the state.”