UPDATED 8:11 AM PT – Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Washington State’s most populated county is establishing new controversial programs to address its more than 7,000 court cases, which await action. The initiative includes using non-profit community groups to decide the fate of offenders rather than a judge.
In response to many crime cases stemming from Black Lives Matter and social justice riots earlier this year, the left leaning city council recently unanimously voted to give criminals a massive hall pass.
“If we can send that person, instead, to a community accountability group who will define what they think accountability means,” stated Dan Satterberg, prosecutor for King County.
The program will be available to those the county constitutes as first time, non-violent criminals. This will allow alleged felons to bypass facing a judge and skip jail time.
Furthermore, the community-based programs were granted $6 million to start. This money would have gone to the sheriffs department, which took a massive pay-cut this year. The council justified the latest program by claiming jails are expensive to operate.
“Locking people up is very costly as well and it’s not affirmative for peoples lives,” said Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Council budget chair. “But we also need to make sure we protect the public, so this is hard…it’s not going to be easy.”
Meanwhile, crime victims in King County will be paid restitution through a public fund created with tax dollars instead of money from the criminal. The council said the move is justified as a public restitution fund will assist victims, also noting it can take months or even years for the offender to go to court and pay the fee.
One self-named activist, public prosecutor Dan Satterberg, believes taxpayers will actually save money because they won’t have to pay for future court cases linked to the criminals. However, Seattle residents have accused Satterberg of giving criminals a hall pass to make his job easier and argue the programs allow him to ignore his responsibilities.
Meanwhile, others in the community worry the experimental programs will dramatically increase crime in Seattle.