Find out who’s letting Seattle criminals go free
April 6, 2022
In the film V for Vendetta, the protagonist reflects on the dystopian condition of England. “How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable.”
There are those who are more responsible than others for the criminal ecosystem that currently exists in the Puget Sound region. Among them are judges who let suspects accused of violent crimes out on the street.
Last week we discussed how City Attorney Ann Davison plans to eliminate repeat offenders via her “High Utilizer” initiative. In response, we’re happy to report many of you flooded her office with calls and emails encouraging her to continue her good work.
Yet, as important and vital this is to restoring public safety in Seattle, there may be an even more important step that must be taken, and that is addressing judges who let criminal suspects out of jail and back onto the street.
Who are they?
While elected officials may draw name and face recognition, judges draw less notoriety. Yet, their powers can be equally as significant.
The process of punishing crime has many steps where justice can be denied, and it also depends on the crime in question. The city attorney only prosecutes misdemeanors, i.e. petty crime. That means violent criminals who commit murder, assault, and rape are referred to the King County Prosecutor’s Office.
Unfortunately, the prosecutor’s office also has a checkered and inconsistent history regarding suspects – they too will be held accountable.
But even if the city attorney or the county prosecutor decides to charge suspects, whether they remain in jail to await trial or are let out on the street is entirely up to the judge presiding over the case.
According to a KOMO 4 interview with King County Superior Court Judge Patrick Oishi, “the presumption is to release.”
In too many cases, literally and figuratively, the judges have chosen poorly.
Earlier this year, a man slashed the face of a Seattle bartender with a makeshift weapon. The victim required surgery and 31 stiches on her face. He was released by the judge after “promising” he’d show up for his court date.
Last year, a man kicked another man’s dog in Pioneer Square so hard the animal died, yet he was released on his own recognizance after being arrested. In December, a man who stole a TV from Seattle Target was let out without bail. In 2020, Seattle police did a drug bust and arrested a dealer possessing illegal substances as well as other people’s debit cards. The presiding judge released him and refused to explain their rationale.
A retail store manager told KOMO that criminals “get arrested for what should be a felony and then the next day they are out here being a nuisance again doing the same things.”
While some may argue that this leniency protects the right of the accused who have not yet been found guilty, radio talk show host Jason Rantz writes that this allows “endless opportunities to re-offend and victimize innocent Seattleites. Seattle judges routinely punt on punishing criminals, instead pushing them to services they won’t use. All they’ve done is make the city more dangerous for its residents, while keeping the criminal on their dead end path.”
The time has come to shed light on these judges whose profiles have so far eluded meaningful public scrutiny. Coming up, we’re diving into which judges are letting criminals out and how often those criminals reoffend while on the street. It’s time for public officials, elected or appointed, to know that their actions will be called out and challenged. Anyone in government who makes our cities and our communities less safe needs to be hounded until they change their decision-making or step down from public office.
Names will be named. Identities will be revealed. Crime stats will be unveiled. Government will be held accountable. Seattle will be safe again.
In the meantime, have you or anyone you know been affected by this leniency toward criminals? Share your story with us.