KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Washington DOC brags its closing prisons during crime crisis

Jun 28, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: 9:00 pm

Washington crime crisis...

Seattle police arrest a woman caught driving a stolen car full of stolen merchandise on March 10, 2022 in Seattle. Like many cities across the United States Seattle is experiencing a surge in crime, with a more than 20 percent increase last year alone and a record number of shootings. (Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

(Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

The Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) is bragging about closing a prison. They just hope you don’t realize the extent of Washington’s crime crisis.

In a press release, the DOC proudly announced the closure of Larch Corrections Center in Clark County. It’s a medium-security prison that could hold 240 inmates. But DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange bragged that Washington has “one of the lowest rates of incarceration in the nation.” She attributes this to having “worked diligently to lower recidivism rates create better neighbors and ensure that incarcerated individuals don’t return to us once they get out.”

The problem with Strange’s argument is that it’s transparent political spin. They have more open beds and reason to close prisons due to radical policy decisions.

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Democrats are releasing criminals, leading to Washington crime crisis

Through a series of laws and strategies, Washington Democrats have been quietly releasing criminals from jail. When criminals deserve jail time, they’re kept out under a Radical Left position that the criminal justice system is racist. This is hardly something to brag about. It’s leading to the Washington crime crisis.

In 2019, Democrats passed SB 5288, which removed second-degree robbery from the list of felonies subject to the state’s three-strikes law. In 2021, they made that law retroactive with SB 5164. In 2020, the state used the pretense of COVID-19 concerns to release over 1,000 inmates from jail earlier than their sentences required. That same year, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill giving light-on-crime prosecutors to seek lower sentences for felons they previously charged. And, of course, Democrats refuse to pass a felony drug possession law, which keeps some people who need prison to stay out of jail.

Concurrently, the state legislature is making it easier for criminals to get away with their crimes. Washington Democrats banned police from vehicular pursuits for non-violent felonies. A criminal can now easily steal a car or catalytic convertor, or commit a quick smash-and-grab robbery without concern that they’ll be chased. These crimes would otherwise lead to jail time, but resource-strapped police departments are forced to let the criminal go and hope their investigations will later lead to an arrest.

 

Light-on-crime prosecutors and judges

Taking their cues from Democrat party leaders, light-on-crime prosecutors have purposefully undercharged criminals or favored jail diversion programs that keep criminals (including re-offenders) out of jail. It’s how a man with over 75 convictions kept managing to stay on the streets and create new victims. 

Up until Ann Davison took over the City Attorney’s office, misdemeanors were rarely prosecuted. Suspects weren’t even booked into jail for two years during COVID. Drug crimes? They’re not prosecuted. Under King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg, it was a policy; under newly elected Leesa Manion, it’s due to a lack of resources. Judges, meanwhile, favor releasing suspects on their own personal recognizance, even if they’re likely to re-offend. And juveniles will almost never see jail time, even when they commit serious crimes.

When Democrats are purposefully keeping criminals out of jail, it’s disingenuous for the DOC to claim they’ve been successful in mitigating the risks of recidivism. Yet that’s what they’re doing.

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It’s a lot of gaslighting

Secretary Strange wants you to think that the DOC has been rehabilitating inmates. And the implication is that there are fewer criminals in need of prison.

“We already have one of the lowest rates of incarceration in the nation,” Strange said in a statement. “DOC has worked diligently to lower recidivism rates, create better neighbors and ensure that incarcerated individuals don’t return to us once they get out. Of course, our continued success means we can no longer afford to operate all of the prisons we currently have.”

As the Democrat light-on-crime laws and policies took effect, crime surged. Washington saw a 46% increase in homicides in 2020. They went up again in 2021. With 46,939 car thefts in 2022, Washington was the third highest in the country. Juvenile crime is soaring in the Puget Sound, with a rash of serious crimes from carjackings to homicides. And with police departments depleted and initially defunded, we don’t have the resources to arrest scores of criminals devastating our neighborhoods.

The DOC could afford to operate the prisons, if we put people deserving jail time in a cell. Democrats created the DOC budgetary issue by purposefully keeping cells and beds empty. In 2020, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH obtained a memo outlining how the DOC hoped to release prisoners early as a cost-saving measure.

Washingtonians are being lied to about the crime crisis and the policies and laws keeping criminals out of jail in order to justify closing more facilities. It’s putting communities at risk. Democrats are doing this to serve an ideological agenda they view as worthy, so they turn a blind eye to the dire results of their agenda. But we suffer the consequences of the Washington crime crisis.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our CitiesSubscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Washington DOC brags its closing prisons during crime crisis