You will likely recall that last February a group self-published a report on “prolific offenders” who cause problems for local communities and businesses, and who cycle through the criminal justice system. As I wrote at the time, that report had plenty of methodological issues and other flaws that limited its usefulness, since the authors didn’t have access to most of the relevant government, law-enforcement, and human-services records. However, in the aftermath of that report, Mayor Durkan commissioned her own task force to look into the issue of prolific offenders. That group published their report last week, concurrent with a budget proposal from the Mayor for four new programs to address the problem.
Two weeks ago, a consortium of business district and neighborhood advocacy groups released a report entitled “System Failure: report on prolific offenders in Seattle’s criminal justice system.” The report, authored by Scott Lindsay, a former public safety advisor to Mayor Murray and 2017 candidate for City Attorney, identifies 100 individuals who “cycle through the criminal justice system with little impact on their behavior, repeatedly returning to Seattle’s streets to commit more crimes.”
Heavy on findings but light on recommendations, the report paints a dire picture of the state of the criminal justice system in Seattle and King County, and the ability of this group of “prolific offenders” to game the system. But as with any study that claims such significant findings, it’s worth taking a closer look.