WA JR 4220

By Hawkeye Staff

In response to the deaths of the four Lakewood officers whose lives were taken by Maurice Clemmons in November 2009, WA JR 4220 was added to the ballot as a constitutional amendment, which passed with 84.9 percent of the vote.

In essence, WA JR 4220 would “allow courts to deny bail to persons charged with offenses punishable by the possibility of life in prison or upon presentation of clear and convincing evidence that a person has a propensity for violence (USA Today).”

The Washington State Constitution currently allows people who are charged with crimes to post bail before the trial, unless a person commits a capital offense.

Due to the way our legal system works, Maurice Clemmons was bailed out of jail multiple times. According to the House Resolution 4220, “The court may impose release conditions where there is a substantial danger that the charged person will commit a violent crime, or seek to intimidate witnesses, or otherwise unlawfully interfere with the administration of justice unless the court imposes conditions on the accused person’s release.”

It may seem like this amendment would take away our sixth, (right to a speedy trial), seventh, (right to a trial by jury) and eighth, (prevents cruel and unusual punishment rights), but it merely gives judges choice of deciding to hold determined ‘dangerous’ offenders while waiting for trial.

Governor Chris Gregoire said in a statement, “It balances, protects and ensures that people still have access to bail… But when they are dangerous and pose a threat, the judge has to be able to have the discretion to keep them in jail.”