by Erica C. Barnett
Last week, a 35-year-old man who had been released from jail less than one week earlier attacked a county employee in a women’s restroom at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. The assailant, a Level 1 sex offender with a history of attacking women, told detectives he had smoked “homemade meth” immediately before the attack. A police report filed after the incident indicates the attacker, who is a person experiencing homelessness, may suffer from mental illness.
The particulars of this case might lead a reasonable person to conclude that people who commit sex offenses need closer monitoring once they’re released from custody, along with access to housing and mental health care to prevent them from reoffending once they’re released.
Instead, the assault became a symbol for conservative officials, who suggested “solutions” that included sweeping dozens of homeless people from a nearby encampment and directing women to change the way they behave in public.
Continue reading OPINION: Courthouse Assault a Symptom of Failing Systems, Not Individuals
by Ashley Archibald
Mutual aid practitioners who have long worked with homeless individuals have called on the Seattle City Council to disavow We Heart Seattle (WHS), a volunteer group that removes trash from homeless encampments across the city. WHS’s critics insist the group has illegally removed belongings, focused more on cleaning up sites rather than the welfare of unsheltered residents, and used inappropriate tactics to remove people experiencing homelessness from public spaces.
Continue reading Volunteer Group That Removes Trash From Homeless Encampments Draws Criticism
by Ben Adlin
Right now in Washington State, possession of an illegal drug is in most cases a felony, punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and a maximum five years in prison. For people with drug use disorders or casual users who are arrested and convicted, that can lead to a crush of other consequences, including difficulty finding a job, securing housing, or qualifying for all sorts of public benefits.
For some, those obstacles lead them to return to drugs — often landing them back in the criminal justice system. Others end up victim to a ballooning overdose crisis that currently kills tens of thousands of people each year and appears to have only gotten worse during the pandemic.
Advocates of drug reform have long argued that criminalizing use is a clumsy, ultimately harmful way to treat what they say should be viewed as a public health problem. On Friday they’ll finally get a hearing in the state legislature as Washington lawmakers consider a new bill that would eliminate all penalties for possessing or using drugs and instead expand outreach, treatment, and recovery services.
Continue reading Washington Bill to Decriminalize All Drugs Will Receive First Public Hearing on Friday
The Northwest Daily Marker published an article by Jason Paulus arguing that these shanty towns that have been popping up all over the city are breeding addiction and killing addicts. He argued that we must ban addicts from housing, requiring sobriety and enrollment in treatment to be housed.
Because we are approaching the cold and rainy seasons, Jason, it seems like you are the one trying to kill addicts. Paulus takes the stance that people experiencing houselessness must hit rock bottom before they can get clean, because that is what he needed.
Continue reading Burning the Slums, a War on the Poor