by Sadé A. Smith
Inequitable bail laws allow bail companies to extort the poor for the little wealth they have. By working as a proxy for the courts’ cash bail system, bail companies are allowed to engage in extreme wealth transfers in exchange for your freedom. In reality, the U.S. legal system has normalized ransoms. Here’s how it works: If you are charged with a crime but not convicted, the court has the option to set bail. If you can’t afford to post bail, you are stuck in jail pretrial, despite being presumed innocent until proven guilty. You are caged until your case resolves. This process can take years. The courts make their determination based on the statements of police and charges determined by prosecutors. You have no way to refute these frequently baseless allegations. The court presumes the police are telling the truth, despite mountains of evidence that police lie in reports regularly. To obtain your freedom, you must pay the full amount to the court or pay 10% to 15% of the bond ordered by the court to a bail company. The bail company pays the full amount and will be reimbursed once the case resolves. In short, you exchange your limited resources for your freedom. The bail company keeps the 10% to 15% you paid no matter what, even if they are fully reimbursed by the court. They also secure collateral for the full amount. If you fail to appear in court (at times for any reason), and the court forfeits your bond, the bond company keeps your 10% to 15% and can collect on the collateral you signed over in exchange for your freedom. In any other circumstance, a contract leveraging your freedom in exchange for money would be null and void, but the criminal legal system allows it. Already economically depressed families have lost homes, vehicles, and other property as a result. In a disparate system that we know is racist, the central question should be, what about having money makes you safer for the community?
Continue reading OPINION | Bail, Ransom, Wealth Transfer, and Real Community Safety
by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
A month has passed since the Seattle Police Department (SPD) moved its mobile precinct to the intersection of Third Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle, scattering an open-air market for drugs and stolen merchandise that had recently been the scene of two murders.
Continue reading A Month After ‘Operation New Day’ Crackdown, Impacts on Crime Remain Unclear
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 Neal McNamara
(This article originally appeared on Patch.com)
The woman stabbed to death Saturday night in Rainier Beach has been identified as Nissan Latrice Pigford, 34, according to the King County Medical Examiner. Pigford died of multiple stab wounds and her manner of death has been ruled homicide, according to the medical examiner. Continue reading Rainier Beach Stabbing Victim Identified
by Neal McNamara
(This article was previously published on Patch.com and has been reprinted with permission)
Following a national trend in recent years, violent crime in Seattle has risen since Chief Kathleen O’Toole took charge of the department in June 2014, according to SPD and FBI statistics. Between 2008 and 2013, violent crime was up and down each year, but since 2014, the total number of violent crime incidents has trended upward. Continue reading Seattle Crime Trends A Mixed Bag Under SPD Chief O’Toole
by Neal McNamara
Che’Reonna L. Thomas, 20, was shot in early July a few days before her 20th birthday.
A 20-year-old woman who was shot in a drive-by in South Seattle July 1 has since died, the King County Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed. Che’Reonna L. Thomas, 20, died Aug. 7 of a gunshot wound, and her death was ruled a homicide, according to the medical examiner. Continue reading Police Still Seeking Leads in Case of Drive-by Shooting Victim
by Kelsey Hamlin
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article contained the name of the victim in Friday night’s shooting. We apologize to both the victim and the victim’s family as their name never should have been included in the article at the family’s request.
Information surrounding a Milo Yiannopoulos protester shot at the University of Washington (UW) Friday night keeps rising like steam. The shooting transpired after political groups of all stripes flooded the university’s Red Square. Continue reading Aftermath of the UW shooting and an update on police investigations
by Andrew Harris
(Updated Apr 4 at 9:15pm)
Seattle police officers responded to calls originated by community members of a man suffering from gunshot wounds near 57th and Waters Avenue South at about 7:00pm last night (Apr 2). Several residents in the neighborhood provided assistance to the man prior to police arriving.
Continue reading Homicide Investigation Opens After Shooting Near Waters Avenue