Ann Davison’s plan to eliminate repeat offenders
March 30, 2022
Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison’s election last November showed that Seattle residents are ready for real change for the city. However, the ongoing rampant crime would not be possible if it weren’t for the gross enabling by former mayors, the City Council, and former city attorney Pete Holmes. Under his tenure, an astounding 50 percent of crimes committed weren’t prosecuted after the criminal was arrested. This has had a devastating effect on Seattle police morale. Why bother to arrest a suspect and book him into jail if he’ll be out on the street with not even a slap on the wrist?
This policy also emboldened chronic offenders who have learned that they flout the law without fear of repercussions.
With crime spiraling out of control in Seattle, the first place to start fixing the problem is inside government – specifically, how it treats criminals.
While Mayor Bruce Harrell has promised to address crime, Davison has announced a “High Utilizer” initiative that targets repeat offenders.
Many people aren’t aware of it, but much of the crime in an area is committed by a relatively few number of people. While unveiling her initiative, Davison revealed that 118 criminals have been responsible for 2,400 crimes in Seattle over the past five years.
In 2020 a repeat offender attacked a mother and toddler. That same year, Q13 Fox reported one Seattle man had 77 criminal cases. More recently, a man with 22 convictions in both Washington and California threw a woman down the stairs of a Seattle light rail station.
Davison’s approach, if successfully implemented, will ensure that these handful of people responsible for most of the violent and petty crime wreaking havoc on Seattle’s communities will be kept off the streets and away from innocent people.
However, Davison won’t be able to do this alone. She’s going to need help.
Make Your Voice Heard!
Reach out to Ann Davison and tell her you support her “High Utilizer” initiative!
In many ways, Davison faces an uphill battle. Though newly-elected Councilmember Sara Nelson called attention to downtown crime, the others still persist in a “soft on crime” approach. Additionally, the departure of Pete Holmes as city attorney didn’t include others in the office who, together, created the type of culture that produced a lenient approach to crime.
More broadly, Davison also faces opposition from regional government agencies, including the King County Public Defense. Reacting to her new “High Utilizer” initiative, it put out a statement saying that putting criminals in jail is “clearly ineffective.”
Yes, because releasing chronic offenders is the truly effective way to solve the problem.
Take the case of Travis Berge, who in 2020 killed his own fiancé and then committed suicide. A chronic drug addict, he committed innumerable petty crimes, attempted to rape a woman, boasted of beating his fiancé on social media, threatened to kill officers, ignored court orders, and yet when arrested was usually released within hours and was rarely charged. At the time, public safety advisor Scott Lindsay told Q13 Fox that “our criminal justice system is designed to enable people who will flout the system. Don’t show up for probation, doesn’t matter. Commit a new crime within a week of your last crime, doesn’t matter. Nobody will hold you accountable.”
In addition to the city, local media outlets also shape perception and opinion by how they cover crime and public safety. While reporting on Davison’s new initiative, the Seattle Times ran the online story with the headline Seattle city attorney’s plan for repeat offenders is ‘tired’ and destabilizing, public defender says. Though the story itself contains fair reporting on her initiative, the headline frames it in an inappropriate way.
Crime is out of control. Criminals need to be punished and, if necessary, isolated from regular society. Davison is working to make that happen. Anyone who thinks that jailing criminals is “destabilizing” are more than just out in left field. They’re not even in the same ballpark as regular Seattle residents forced to deal with this crisis.
This problem is not going to get solved overnight, and it’s not going to get solved by one person. Davison and others trying to crack down on crime need to know that you and thousands of other Seattle residents support them. Also, those undermining these efforts, whether in government or elsewhere, need to be called out, criticized, and opposed.
For too long we’ve had people out of touch with reality in government enabling people out of touch with reality living on the streets. What Davison is doing is the good initial step, but the Mayor, City Council and the Seattle residents need to do their part.