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Seattle is a “fair” and “just” city for all, quashing outstanding warrants for low-level, non-violent offenders

Mayor Durkan: Making Seattle “fair” and “just” and safe…

On Tuesday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that the city would be purging warrants for over 200 low-level, non violent offenders. From her tweet: “I am joined by @carmenbest @CityAttyPeteH and @CMLGonzalez as we take another step to make Seattle a more fair and just place for all.”

More details from the city’s press release:

“Today Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Councilmember M. Lorena González, and Chief Carmen Best filed a motion at Seattle Municipal Court asking the Court to consider quashing over 200 outstanding warrants for people charged or convicted of low-level non-violent misdemeanor offenses that occurred 5 to 22 years ago.  The City is taking these steps to help address inequities in Seattle’s criminal justice system and to protect public safety (not according to this report) by ensuring that law enforcement can focus on more serious, violent offenses.

The vast majority of the 208 pre-dispositional and post-conviction warrants are for people charged or convicted of Prostitution (107 people) and for Driving with a Suspended License in the 3rd Degree (73 people), which is commonly known as “driving while poor.” The Seattle City Attorney’s Office filed charges on these misdemeanor cases between February 1996 and July 2013. The motion also asks that the pre-dispositional cases be dismissed.

“If you haven’t re-offended after 5-plus years of a warrant being issued, I’m comfortable asking the Court to dismiss your warrant,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. “Public safety is well-served in this action, as this clears the field to allow officers to focus on finding those people who’ve committed more serious offenses. Further, people with a cleared warrant will be much more likely to engage with police, report crimes they may witness, and get on with their lives.”

“We’re acting to make Seattle a more just city, to recognize that our criminal justice system disproportionately impacts people of color, and to ensure that our officers can focus on the most violent offenders and protecting public safety,” said Mayor Durkan.

Other warrants that the motion requests be quashed includes Graffiti (10 people); Attempt to Obtain Controlled Substance (5 people); Prostitution Loitering (5 people); Minor in Possession of Alcohol (3 people); Use of Drug Paraphernalia (3 people), and Park Code Violation (2 people). No felony offenses are included in the motion.

The warrants addressed in the motion are primarily for post-conviction warrants, which are issued after a defendant was found guilty at Seattle Municipal Court but failed to appear for a subsequent hearing. Pre-dispositional warrants are issued after a person doesn’t show for a court-ordered appearance prior to the Court’s or jury’s finding on the defendant’s alleged offense.

“Outdated, low level warrants do not make our communities safer, but instead can cause harm, particularly in communities of color,” said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

The 208 defendants included in today’s motion are not required to appear or take any action as the Court considers their outstanding warrants. 111 of the warrant holders are male, 96 are female, and one is unknown. 101 of the warrant holders are White, 73 are Black, 9 are Asian, 5 are Native American, and 20 were not identified.”

Don’t kid yourself that this will have any real impact on public safety and the ability of law enforcement to focus on more serious, violent offenders. They can’t even keep up with the crimes committed by the homeless. See the following:

This is a “feel good” PR stunt by the major touted as “social justice” with progressive, flowery terms such as “justice” and “equality.”

In reality the city just – once again – selectively excuses illegal behavior while punishing law-abiding citizens.

DCG

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