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King County Refuses to Imprison Dangerous People and Continues to Blame COVID

The King County jail is still refusing almost all misdemeanor bookings, citing COVID-19 limits imposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine. Every non-violent misdemeanor suspect — the type of quality-of-life offense that plagues Seattle — is exempt from jail time.

Suspects detained for auto theft or burglary are released. If a repeat offender continues to steal alcohol from the same store, he will not be arrested. On a bus, smoking fentanyl? The suspect may be temporarily barred from using the metro, but he or she may continue to consume elsewhere. Worse, even if they committed a bookable crime, many suspects know an easy route out of jail. They simply state that they ingested drugs or were wounded.

The booking policy is not scientific. It’s due to Constantine’s abolitionist worldview, which keeps criminals out of jail on purpose, and his office has no plans to change it anytime soon. Rantz: Prosecutor argues teen gun offenses, assault, and theft deserve no jail time.

Get out of jail free in Seattle card Several disgruntled police officers contacted the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to raise the alarm. They are not permitted to book suspects, especially repeat offenders who are known to be taking over the county.

“Any misdemeanor theft will not be booked at King County Jail,” a deputy from the King County Sheriff’s Office tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “They won’t take it unless it’s a criminal (more than $750).” So when we capture shoplifters, we can’t book them and have to let them go.”

Of course, this means that the shoplifter, who is virtually always homeless, will continue to prey on downtown businesses. Businesses have struggled to recover from the COVID economic closure due to the ever-present threat of shoplifting. Some establishments permanently closed their doors, citing an increase in crime. Businesses that remain open must hire security to keep shoplifters at bay. When you know you won’t be arrested, security becomes secondary.

Criminals Are Evolving

When King County stopped prosecuting drug sellers for personal possession in 2018, they reacted by carrying fewer goods and restocking their stock more frequently. Similarly, crooks understand how much they can steal without facing jail time.

“Not being able to book misdemeanors is definitely one of the major factors affecting crime right now,” says a Seattle police officer on KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “Criminals know we won’t charge them with theft if they don’t steal a criminal amount of product.” People were scared of going to jail (even for a day) a few years ago, and they were considerably less inclined to do so. “Now that they know there is no risk of going to jail, why not do it?”

“People tend to believe that low-level crime has no actual impact on violent crime,” the officer says, citing the notoriously lethal 3rd & Pine intersection in downtown Seattle. Rantz: Pro-criminal, anti-cop politicians rush to support Leesa Manion for KC Prosecutor

When a suspect is apprehended, all they have to do is give a cause for going to the hospital, such as admitting to taking narcotics or having trouble breathing. They will not be accepted by the King County jail. Officers will then transport them to Harborview, where they will almost certainly be released.

“If you admit you used drugs, that’s an obligatory medical decline, and we have to take them to the hospital,” said the deputy. “So it’s a six-hour observation stay in the hospital, which keeps the officer off the road for that amount of time.” Because it is often not worth the time owing to staffing, they are simply let go.”

According to the Seattle officer, this is a major issue because it implies some criminal suspects will be released. He claims that the suspect is “told to turn themselves in when freed, but they never do.”

The problem is exacerbated by the SPD’s understaffing. Even if an officer wants to stay with the suspects because they believe jailing them is beneficial for the community, they may be forced to depart after being permitted by a supervisor.

“Felonies will be determined by the seriousness of the crime in most cases, but it is not uncommon to leave felony property crime suspects at Harborview Medical Center if they are denied at the jail.”

COVID Is Being Blamed

The county’s correctional system, led by Constantine, pretends nothing has changed since the outbreak began. Haglund reported 21 COVID-positive criminal suspects at the end of August.”COVID-19 continues to pose a risk to employees and inmates at King County facilities,” Haglund asserted. “Because they are limited locations, congregate settings such as jails remain at a higher risk.”

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