Justice reform, policing at heart of King County prosecutor race

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Ferrell also wants to use that role to push for changes at Olympia that he says would help police and prosecutors do their jobs. He wants to see changes to Washington’s ban on most police car chases. In 2021, the legislature revised the rules for police pursuits as part of a package of policing reforms. The police can only engage in a car chase if they have probable cause of a violent crime or a sex crime.

Ferrell argued that change is the reason car thefts are up 88% statewide this year compared to 2021. Likewise, he wants to push for reforms to Washington’s possession laws. drug. After the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the state’s criminal possession law was unconstitutional, the legislature passed a law making possession a misdemeanor but requiring a person to be offered the services of diversion before they can be prosecuted. Ferrell said that makes it difficult for police to stop public drug use and for prosecutors to enforce drug laws.

“It doesn’t mean we just take our ball and go home,” Ferrell said. “We need to do everything we can to enforce the laws, work with legislative partners and law enforcement to make sure the community is safe and people feel safe.”

Juvenile Justice

In November 2021, the King County District Attorney’s Office launched a new diversion program called Restorative Community Pathways. It became a focal point of the race, underscoring Ferrell’s and Manion’s opposing views on criminal justice reform.

The program diverts young offenders facing misdemeanor charges and certain felony charges such as illegal possession of firearms, to non-profit services and classes before their cases come to trial. courts. Victims of crime are also connected to resources and restitution.

Of the 145 participants who have completed the program so far, only 8% have been arrested again, according to county data.

If elected, Ferrell said he would keep the program but wants to see more oversight of participants. One option would be to make it a court-run pre-trial diversion program like other county community court programs, instead of a pre-filing diversion program. He also challenged some of the criminal crimes eligible for diversion.

Manion argued that the office trusts its community partners to provide oversight for participants.

Backlog of criminal cases

The prosecutor’s office currently has a backlog of about 4,500 felony cases that have accumulated during the pandemic. That’s down from 5,000 cases in May. Ferrell says the backlog is evidence of dysfunction in the office. Manion said the cases show the office is doing its job.

The backlog of cases built up during the pandemic because the prosecutor’s office continued to file an average of 20 to 30 felony cases each day, while courts were closed so cases could not move forward.

Ferrell said: “There has been no discernible plan on how to fix this issue. The system begins to break down.

Manion said she helped secure $14 million in federal COVID relief funds for the office to hire 120 new staff to fill the backlog, including 10 victims’ advocates to connect victims to services and support. restitution while the cases are pending.

Police

Manion said she intentionally did not seek endorsement from police unions in this race, as she wanted to ensure there was no appearance of bias when her office was dealing with business. use of force and shootings of officers. Still, she said, she wants to see the county spend more money on policing and increase the number of mental health professionals responding alongside officers to people’s public crises.

Manion also wants to strengthen the DA’s relationship with King County law enforcement. She said Satterberg, the current prosecutor, still sends the assistant attorney general to monthly briefings with the King County Sheriff and Seattle Police Chief. She said she plans to be in the room to “be accountable, build meaningful partnerships, and deliver effective crime prevention strategies.”

Ferrell has been endorsed by a host of police associations and police unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police of Washington State, King County Police Officers Guild, and Police Officers Guild from Seattle.

He argued that Manion’s lack of law enforcement support “tells a story of what’s really going on here between law enforcement and underserved and uncommunicated cities” by the DA’s office.

Ferrell continued, “My partnerships with all of these mayors, police agencies, and police guilds are going to serve me well in dealing with the public safety situation.”

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