Ann Davison needs your help!
May 4, 2022
Recently we wrote about how Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison wants to reduce petty crime in the city, but she can’t do it without your help. In response, many of you reached out to her office to express your support for her ongoing efforts.
Well, now your help is needed once more.
Davison wants to target repeat misdemeanor offenders who are causing most of Seattle’s petty crime – but there’s only one problem. Two years ago, the Seattle Community Court was set up to keep people from going to jail for certain misdemeanor charges. The idea was that hooking them up to housing and job opportunities, rather than putting them behind bars, would be more effective.
However, this policy also applies to serial offenders who though a small portion of the population make up a disproportionate amount of criminal cases.
Davison has asked the Seattle Municipal Court to amend the program so that criminals who fall under her Higher Utilizer Initiative are sent to jail rather than given leniency.
The court is made up of seven elected judges.:
- The Honorable Willie Gregory
- The Honorable Faye Chess
- The Honorable Andrea Chin
- The Honorable Anita Crawford-Willis
- The Honorable Adam Eisenberg
- The Honorable Catherine McDowall
- The Honorable Damon Shadid
In her letter Davison noted that 55 percent of all misdemeanor cases are referred to the community court. In other words, half of all petty criminal cases in Seattle are guaranteed from the start to not involve any jailtime.
You would think that Davison’s idea is a sensible approach. It wouldn’t apply to a one-time offender who, when given a second chance, takes it and stops offending. Her request is aimed at those who by their actions have shown they’re not interested in living honest lives like the rest of us even when offered a helping hand to accomplish it.
But such a reasonable request is apparently too much for King County Public Defender Anita Khandelwal, who recently told The Seattle Times that “the only guaranteed outcome of this initiative, and of any criminal legal system-based initiative, is racial disproportionality and continued cycling of individuals through a system that is harmful, expensive and ineffective.”
Make Your Voice Heard!
Reach out to City Attorney Ann Davison and tell her you support removing repeat offenders from Seattle’s Community Court!
Call Public Defender Anita Khandelwal and tell her you support Davison’s proposal!
Most of you reading this probably needed to do a double-take to make sure you read that statement correctly. It’s the kind of doublespeak that Orwell would have proudly included in 1984 if the book had instead been titled 2022 and set in Seattle rather than Oceania.
Khandelwal is opposing the sentencing of repeat offenders rather than giving them additional leniency because she thinks it will fail. But the Seattle Community Court has already failed regarding these criminals, because if the program was working as intended those serial offenders wouldn’t exist, and Davison’s initiative wouldn’t be necessary. How has the community court succeeded when it comes to these individuals?
Keep in mind that Khandelwal is not talking about people who have been arrested, but not yet found guilty. This doesn’t concern presumption of innocence. This pertains to people who have not only been found guilty, but many times over. We’re talking about most responsible for the crime that destroys Seattle communities.
Khandelwal needs to be reminded that she’s a public defender, not a criminal defender.
She described the Higher Initiative as “expensive.”
You know what’s expensive? Larceny that forces a store to raise prices for customers who don’t steal, only to go out of business and force people to travel further away to get the same goods and services. Vandalism that undermines the beauty and sense of safety in a neighborhood so that people feel compelled to buy home security equipment. Theft that keeps people away from business areas and deprives them of revenue they need to survive.
Yet, though Khandelwal opposes Davison it’s not her call to make. That decision rests with the Seattle Municipal Court itself.
In a statement, the court responded to Davison’s request by saying “in the coming days, the court will continue to work with her office and the Department of Public Defense to identify how to move forward together and create a prioritized plan for people whose needs and issues are not being addressed, and have not been addressed historically, by our criminal justice system.”
With all due respect to whoever actually wrote that statement, those whose needs and issues aren’t being met are innocent Seattle residents made victim by chronic offenders.
It’s amazing we even have to point this out, but stating the obvious is now par for the course. The needs of the innocent take precedence over the needs of those who break the law. No public policy should ever aid offenders, well intended or not, at the expense of public safety.
King County Municipal judges who support the Higher Utilizer Initiative side with the majority of Seattle voters who want improved public safety and elected Davison for that purpose. As for those who oppose locking up serial offenders, as JFK put it “forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”
In this case, we won’t forget their names when they’re up for reelection. The time of judges flying under the radar with regards to criminal coddling and degrading the City’s public safety is coming to an end.