The Seattle City Attorney’s Office has embarked on a strategy that will harm our community’s most vulnerable members and lead to the incarceration of individuals too mentally ill to stand trial. The city attorney should abandon this counterproductive effort and allow service providers to work with these individuals without criminal legal system interference.
The only humanitarian response to the COVID-19 crisis in the county jail is to reduce the number of people incarcerated there.
On Jan. 6, a person who had already been jailed for more than two weeks on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle waited in a King County Correctional Facility (KCCF) cell for an arraignment hearing in Superior Court. Shortly before the scheduled hearing, the court cancelled his hearing. Why? Because he had been jailed in a unit that also had a person who tested positive for COVID-19 and was being held in quarantine.
Had his hearing occurred, he would have been told what crime he was alleged to have committed and been able to seek his release. Instead, he languished in jail for another four days before he had his hearing, where the court agreed to release him to house arrest. But jail policy and COVID-19 again blocked his exit: The jail would not arrange for house arrest because he might have been exposed to COVID-19, so he waited another nine days before being released.
by Dr. Ben Danielson, Sean Goode, and Anita Khandelwal
Young people’s brains are still developing; they are more impulsive than adults and less capable of understanding the consequences of their actions. Researchers, teachers, doctors, and courts all recognize this scientific fact. Unfortunately, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a self-proclaimed “progressive,” has chosen to ignore and even challenge this science with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Washington State’s Supreme Court’s decisions providing protections to youth who are prosecuted in the adult system. If successful, he would undo necessary safeguards for young people and exacerbate the racial disparities that plague our criminal legal system. He should withdraw his appeal immediately.