TOM AND CURLEY

Study: 1 of 5 booked into jail are homeless, mostly for nonviolent crimes

Feb 20, 2019, 1:33 PM
seattle homeless, prolific homeless...
King County Courthouse. (penjelly, Flickr)
(penjelly, Flickr)

The cyclical relationship between homelessness and crime is a regular feature of the Seattle justice system, but a new study illuminates just how pronounced it is.

According to report by Crosscut, of the 16,927 people booked into jail in 2018, 3,211 of them were homeless, placing the number of homeless arrested at approximately one out of five. It’s striking data considering that homeless people make up only 1 percent of the population, and that the 3,211 consisted of 1,000 homeless people who were repeat offenders.

“When your life is as broken as a lot of homeless lives are, for them to appear in court is much tougher than most of us who have regular jobs and lives,” said KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. “Because of that, every time that happens, they end being arrested and put in jail, setting off a cascade of negative effects.”

RELATED: Cleaning up Seattle’s homelessness crisis in Northgate

Because many homeless have difficulty making their court date, they’re often issued a “failure to appear” (FTA) warrant, meaning that the next time an officer runs their name for any reason, the warrant shows up and they’re arrested again.

Many of the offenses involved non-violent crimes like theft, drugs, trespassing, property damage, and outstanding warrants, with assault accounting for 17 percent. Theft was the most prominent homeless crime at 20 percent.

Regardless of the crime, the arrest tends to worsen an already bad homeless situation. “You’re in jail for however long, you come out, you have a criminal record, it’s already hard to find housing and a job with a criminal record,” Tom said.

“But you’re also isolated, you’re cut off from your case manager, you occasionally lose your belongings in the intervening time, you lose a spot in your shelter, and a lot of these things compound themselves more and more.”

RELATED: Why does Seattle outpace most of the country with rise in homeless?

For KIRO Radio’s John Curley, it’s all an unfortunate process for all parties involved, but not a surprising one considering Seattle’s policies.

“Most of these cops know these people,” Curley said. ‘Hey Bob, what’s going on?’ And then they run the numbers on Bob and find an outstanding warrant. ‘I’ve got to take you in, Bob.'”

“It’s this cycle which costs money, and takes time, but it’s part of what happens when you attract homeless people to your city.”

Tom and Curley on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to tom and curleyTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 3pm for The Tom and Curley Show.

Tom and Curley Show

Tom and Curley

TSA...
Tom and Curley Show

20 years too many? Tom and Curley debate the TSA as Thanksgiving travel ramps up

As Sea-Tac Airport will see an estimated 1.5 million travelers over Thanksgiving, KIRO Radio's Tom and Curley Show questions the necessity of the TSA.
7 days ago
Tom Tangney...
Tom and Curley Show

Tom & Curley Show co-host Tom Tangney announces retirement

After nearly three decades at KIRO Radio, Tom & Curley Show co-host Tom Tangney is retiring, with his last show set for Dec. 1.
9 days ago
Jeff Bezos...
John Curley

John Curley once gave Jeff Bezos a ‘Best Boss’ award

John Curley recalls the time he met Jeff Bezos, giving him a “Best of Western Washington” award for "Best Boss" from Evening Magazine.
13 days ago
Find out why Dori was jealous of John Curley. (This photo of John offers a hint...)...
Dori Monson

Green-eyed monster gets between Dori and John Curley

Dori had to admit he was jealous last week after hearing something about his friend and colleague, KIRO Radio host John Curley.
15 days ago
Belfast...
Tom Tangney

Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Belfast’ is a crowd-pleaser that doesn’t quite hit the mark

"Belfast" has plenty to recommend itself but it's not nearly the moving testament to fraught times that Kenneth Branagh thinks it is or wants it to be.
20 days ago
Seattle Kraken fans...
Tom and Curley Show

Tom & Curley: What are the rules for fans at Seattle Kraken games?

Should sports fans be sitting or standing? Depending on the Seattle sporting event you're attending, the answer to that question can vary.
22 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Study: 1 of 5 booked into jail are homeless, mostly for nonviolent crimes