Crime, reform, and partisan politics

It looks like the administration in Seattle is doing a terrible job of controlling crime in that city.  Two reports by local business associations highlight the problems they’re facing as a result. I’m obliged to the good people at Bearing Arms for putting together this summary of the situation. I’ll quote it at length, because it deserves attention – and it’s symptomatic of the situation in so many of our larger cities at present.

In fact, in Seattle, crimes like rape, homicide, and aggravated assaults are the highest recorded in over a decade … A new report commissioned by business associations in Seattle reveals that the criminal justice system is suffering from a systemic failure that’s leading to tens of thousands of wasted hours by law enforcement and a city attorney’s office that is dismissing a staggering number of cases. The report is called “System Failure 2: Declines, Delays, and Dismissals”, and builds off of an earlier report issued in February of this year that documented the staggering number of criminal cases stemming from the actions of just a few prolific offenders. As the new report claims, one of the reasons why some of these offenders are so prolific is that they so infrequently face any real consequences.

In 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available), the City Attorney’s Office filed only 54 percent of all non-traffic criminal cases referred by police. According to data from the City Attorney’s Office, the rate at which misdemeanor prosecutors declined cases increased dramatically over the past decade from 17 percent in 2007 to 46 percent in 2017. Most of that change is driven by the City Attorney’s Office not filing 65 percent of out-of-custody cases (when the suspect is not in jail) that Seattle police refer for prosecution.

Almost half of all misdemeanor charges are dismissed outright by the City Attorney’s office? Why should the police bother to make an arrest if half the time the City Attorney’s office isn’t even going to bother to prosecute? As the report notes, this means that literally tens of thousands of hours of on-the-clock policing is taken up by engaging in an utterly futile exercise.

… data from Seattle’s misdemeanor criminal justice system shows that there is a significant disconnect between the City Attorney and other criminal justice system actors on how Seattle’s laws should be enforced. The result is that Seattle police churn thousands of misdemeanor case referrals every year, only to see them declined, delayed or dismissed. Prolific offenders know they are unlikely to be held accountable, even when arrested. Police know that most of their hard work is discarded. And repeat victims understand that there is little relief in sight for the daily grind of crime.

The report also notes something very important; as residents and business owners become aware that nothing of consequence will happen if they report a crime, they stop reporting crimes. That means that Seattle’s crime problem may be even worse than the official statistics suggest, as KOMO-TV recently reported.

The case of Seattle’s Uwajimaya on 5th Avenue South is a representative example of what is, and isn’t happening within a broken system.

In 2018 the supermarket stopped reporting any theft cases, that’s in spite of the fact that they continue to be decimated by theft.

“I would say thousands a week, tens of thousands every month, every few months,” said Uwajimaya CEO, Denise Moriguchi.

. . .

From January to September of 2018, before they stopped reporting, Uwajimaya reported 261 theft cases. These are cases in which they actually caught the shoplifter red-handed or had video of the theft.

Of those 261 cases, 166 of them, 63%, were held by the Seattle Police Department. In other words, nothing happened.

The reason the cases were held, the amount that was stolen didn’t reach the $25 threshold set by the city attorney’s office. They weren’t worth dealing with.

Of the remaining 95 cases referred to the city attorney’s office, 44 of them were declined. Or, simply never filed. So nothing happened.

Another 28 cases are pending with bench warrants outstanding. In other words, nothing happened.

It’s not just non-violent crimes like shoplifting. The report found that it’s taking the City Attorney’s office almost seven months, on average, to file charges in assault cases, and in the meantime many of these suspects will be arrested again on similar charges.

There’s more at the link.

The scary thing is, many larger cities are now following the same policies, resulting in the same law enforcement failures.  To cite only a few examples (click the links for more information):

And therein lies the problem.  If, as the Seattle report suggests, the number of crimes being reported has dropped because victims have no confidence that the judicial system will solve them or protect the victims of crime, that does not mean that the actual crime rate has dropped.  It’s simply being under-reported.

We should also understand that these measures are part of a deliberate effort to change the US justice system at the local level, after attempts to do so at federal and state government level had largely failed.  Progressive, left-wing money is funding the election campaigns of many of these DA’s, and their policies reflect that.  This isn’t so much a new judicial approach as a partisan political perspective on society as a whole, and an attempt to re-shape that society in accordance with the views of the sponsors of these elected officials.

That’s scary . . . and because so few voters pay much attention to local politics, it appears to be succeeding.  It may also be an attempt to undermine the influence of more traditional/conservative judges.  If a case never reaches their court, they can’t rule on it, can they?



  1. Seems to me that this might lead to a tick up in Korean roof top defensive forces … certainly a back fire from the progressive DA's perspective. Also, unfortunately, something I suspect that DA would have no hesitation in prosecuting.

  2. I saw this working at the local pd. The head judicial circuit State Attorneys (DAs or Prosecutors in FL) are elected, and the Assistant State Attorneys, hired by the elected SA, pander to the voting population on the left and minority, because that's the population that screams the loudest.

    Unaccepted cases don't count against case count.

    A Plea to a misdemeanor counts as much as a hard-fought conviction on a felony, so the standing rule is to plea everything down to a misdemeanor or a low degree felony and give alternate sentencing rather than prison time.

    So, yes, a prior felon who is charged with 3-4 1st and 2nd degree felonies including gun felonies will often be pled down to misdemeanor possession of x drug. Because that's a victory. And Drug Court diversion for a multiple felon who was caught selling, not using. Assaults knocked down to trespassing, still a 'victory!'

    Don't know how to fix the system. For it is broken at the prosecution and judicial sides.

    Yes, there are problems on the police side, and on the corrections side, but for sheer corruptness and game-playing, the prosecutor's office and the judiciary are at the top.

  3. This makes me think of things a friend of mine familiar with Central and South America was telling me. Back in the old days, Guatemalan middle-class citizens who were sick of street crime in their neighborhoods would contact one of the death squads. Ojo por Ojo was milder—they'd disappear a few of the worst offenders, beat up a bunch of the others and generally let it be known that there was a new sheriff in town. La Mano Blanca was a lot rougher. Their method was basically to get a list of poor people allowed in that neighborhood—maids, servants, delivery people and like that—and all others would get disappeared, or show up looking like Jack the Ripper had been at them. Sooner or later, people in this country are going to get annoyed enough to do things like this.

  4. From living in, and observing, urban areas, I decided years ago there is really no justice for the countless small crimes that cost too much to prosecute. That's one of the reasons I moved to a rural area. Unless you're willing to hide bodies, there is no other solution than moving away from the social cesspools we call cities.

  5. It is really very simple. The police take them into custody for their crime and rather than charge them, drive them to the very house where the DA lives or the ADAs live and the Mayor lives and punts them out of the car there and tells them to use their imagination about how to get back to their stomping ground and let's them know that car jacking is always an option and points them at DA's wife's car…

  6. The choicey seem to be relocating, or vigilante action. And I'm sure THAT would get a responce from the DAd…. It's analogous to the old saw, "Q) Why does the govt. Go after Organised Crime so hard? A) because they hate competition."

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