New prolific offenders report looks for reasons behind Seattle dysfunction

Oct 1, 2019, 10:45 AM
Prolific offenders...
A second report on Seattle's prolific offenders continues to shed light on the city's justice system. (Pexels)

A new report asserts that Seattle’s city attorney doesn’t prosecute roughly half of the non-traffic arrests brought to his office by police, and moves slowly to file charges on the rest. Among those who helped compile the report was the Downtown Seattle Association, which weighed in on its conclusions Tuesday.

“We want to fix the system,” DSA President and CEO Jon Scholes told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien. “What we’re doing now is not working — we’re going in the wrong direction.”

Scholes is part of the same group that released the now-infamous “prolific offenders” report in February, that detailed a revolving door of repeat criminal offenders cycling through Seattle’s court system.

Having now released two parts in a series they’re dubbing “System Failure,” Scholes and the Downtown Seattle Association first looked outline the problem, and then the root causes.

“The first report clearly shows that we have a dysfunctional criminal justice system. The second report uncovers what we think is a large reason for that dysfunction in the system,” he described.

Report asserts Seattle won’t prosecute almost half of arrests

Taking data from municipal court system, Seattle police and City Attorney Pete Holmes’ office, “System Failure 2” asserts that the city prosecutor declines to file on nearly half of the referrals it receives (5,000 cases each year); takes more than six months to file charges on cases it does move forward; and declines to press charges 65 percent of the people who are suspected of crimes but not in custody.

“There’s no excuse for that length of time for filing,” SoDo Business Improvement Area’s Erin Goodman — whose organization also helped publish the report — told KIRO Radio’s Candy, Mike and Todd Show.

“We need a better system — right now it feels like it’s broken,” Uwajimaya head Denise Moriguchi agreed. The popular market in the International District was featured prominently in System Failure 2.

In the wake of all this, city leaders have cited a need for additional funding and more manpower as some of the driving factors behind the issues outlined in the report.

Mayor Jenny Durkan also responded by proposing the addition of two attorneys to the city attorney’s office.

“I think it’s money well spent,” Scholes noted, crediting Durkan for the move. “I appreciate the mayor’s leadership on this issue and some of the things that she’s put in her budget.”

Despite movement from the Mayor’s Office, though, Scholes still has concerns about a lack of action on the part of City Council.

Seattle failing at stopping ‘prolific’ homeless criminal offenders

“Just last week, in response to the mayor’s recommendations in her budget to deal with a lot of these issues, we’re already seeing the City Council raise a number of questions around what we think are pretty common sense investments,” he said.

Ultimately, the hope from Scholes, the Downtown Seattle Association, and other Seattle businesses, is to figure out a better way forward.

“Let’s figure out a new appropriate place for individuals that continue to cycle through our system. Let’s make sure they get the help they need, and we hold them accountable. Right now, everybody in our city’s paying the price.”

Local News

Kathryn Altena

King County Board of Health delays vote to repeal bike helmet law

After a public hearing on a proposed repeal of King County's bike helmet law, the county board of health decided to delay their vote.
17 hours ago
jim walsh, washington lawmaker...
Heather Bosch

Washington lawmaker is locked out of capitol over COVID vaccine mandate

A Washington state lawmaker says he's been locked out of the state capitol in Olympia over the COVID vaccine mandate.
17 hours ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Sammamish scores top spot on list of best small US cities to live in

A new list has crowned Sammamish, Washington, the nation's best small city to live in, marking the latest in a string of recent accolades.
17 hours ago
world cup...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Seattle among cities competing for hosting duties in 2026 World Cup

Starting Thursday, World Cup officials will tour cities across the United States, including Seattle, to determine which venues will host games in 2026.
17 hours ago
Seattle fundraising...
Nick Bowman

Seattle mayoral race fundraising hits highest total in nearly two decades of available data

With just a few weeks to go until ballots are due, Seattle's two mayoral candidates have reached record fundraising heights.
17 hours ago
Seattle council debate...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle council candidates get chance to question each other in Wednesday debate

Candidates for Seattle's Position 9 City Council seat squared off in a debate hosted by Rainier Avenue Radio and Converge Media on Wednesday.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

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.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
New prolific offenders report looks for reasons behind Seattle dysfunction