Crime, Law and Justice

Cannabis Training University / Wikimedia http://bit.ly/1kfTt1S

The stated goal of Washington’s new marijuana law is to stop treating adult pot use as a crime. But Washington’s pot consultant says this experiment in legalization will only work if the police aggressively target the black market. And he’s concerned that won’t happen.

The sponsors of Initiative 502 were clear. They said it was time for a “new approach” to marijuana in Washington. They wanted to allow adult pot use, free up law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes and “take marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations.”

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Police in British Columbia Tuesday announced that they foiled a terrorist plot to bomb Monday's Canada Day celebration in Victoria.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

A lawsuit against a Washington florist who refused to do the flowers for a gay couple's wedding went to court Friday. Attorneys for the Richland florist disputed the state's claim that her refusal on moral grounds violated consumer protection law.

Attorneys for florist Baronelle Stutzman argue the state shouldn't be in court at all. They say claims of discrimination against gays and lesbians should first be reviewed administratively by the Washington Human Rights Commission.

MBisanz / Wikimedia

Oregon lawmakers have given the initial approval to a sweeping measure aimed at checking the growth of the state's prison population. The House Thursday passed a bill that reduces some sentences for non-violent crimes.

The measure would lower the penalties for people convicted of some marijuana crimes and driving with a suspended license. It would also shave prison time off the voter-approved mandatory minimum sentence for robbery and identity theft. It would also put money into programs aimed at reducing recidivism rates.

Charli Deltenre

It's still not clear what the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act will mean for many same-sex couples in the Northwest. That's because of new legal questions surrounding the hundreds of couples who have marriage licenses from Washington state but live in states like Idaho and Oregon that have banned same-sex marriage.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

New restrictions on drones are moving forward in the Oregon legislature. Lawmakers reached an agreement Tuesday on a measure that would limit the way law enforcement can use unmanned aircraft.

Earlier this year, hobbyists raised a fuss when lawmakers considered a measure that would have required all unmanned aircraft — even a child's toy — to be registered with the state. The compromise version of the bill removes that requirement.

File Photo / Legislative Media

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has scored a major legal victory in a case that pits him against a death row inmate who wants to be executed. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the governor does have the right to spare Gary Haugen 's life.

Two-time convicted murderer Gary Haugen has dropped all his appeals and was set to be put to death in late 2011. But two weeks before Haugen's scheduled execution, Kitzhaber suspended the death penalty for as long as he's in office.

Oregon Department of Corrections

An Oregon man convicted of killing a police officer more than 20 years ago will stay behind bars for at least a few more months. The Oregon Board of Parole said Tuesday that it will re-examine its decision to release Sidney Dean Porter.

In 1992, Porter beat and killed John Day police officer Frank Ward with his fists and a piece of firewood. The murder shocked the eastern Oregon community. Porter got a life sentence but is now eligible for parole. In fact, he was set to be let out of prison this Friday.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Even if you've never visited a jail, you probably have a pretty clear image of what inmate visitation is like – a shatterproof glass barrier, two people sitting on either side, speaking into telephones.

But that's changing in some parts of the Northwest. More and more county jails are switching to privately operated video conferencing systems. Sort of like Skype, for inmates. But these systems have technical difficulties and come with costs for the inmates’ families.

Delayed visits

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

  Federal authorities believe the Spokane man accused of sending a ricin-laced letter to a federal judge may have also sent similar poisoned letters to the president, the CIA and Fairchild Air Force Base. 

The FBI says the new letters were addressed in red ink and postmarked May 13 in Spokane. That matches the earlier letters Matthew Ryan Buquet is accused of mailing to a federal judge in Spokane and the downtown post office.

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