My proposals for anti-racism and criminal legal system transformation in upcoming budget

Dear fellow King County employee,

Today I announced a package of proposals that transforms the criminal legal system and funds ongoing work to confront racism as a public health crisis.

There is increasing acknowledgement of the brutal reality of racism and bias throughout our society, and the imperative to be deliberate and steadfast in our commitment to anti-racism. That is why I joined with Public Health Director Patty Hayes in June to declare that racism is a public health crisis, and that all of King County government is committed to implementing a racially equitable response to this crisis, centering on community.

The investments I announced today will form part of my 2021-2022 Proposed Budget that I will transmit to the County Council on Sept. 22. They include:

  • Divest $4.6 million of marijuana tax revenue and shift these funds from law enforcement to community-based programs.
  • Invest $6.2 million in “Restorative Community Pathways,” a partnership between community organizations and the Department of Public Defense, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Community and Human Services. In lieu of filing charges, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will refer up to 800 young people by 2022-2023 to receive comprehensive, community-based services. Restorative Community Pathways includes appropriate services and support for harmed parties, and restitution so that youths who cannot pay fines and other financial obligations do not end up in a cycle of probation violations and incarceration.
  • Invest $750,000 to co-create and implement alternatives to policing in urban incorporated King County. The Executive Office will partner with community members and work with the King County Sheriff’s Office to co-create and implement a new community-driven safety model in urban unincorporated areas such as White Center, Skyway, and East Renton.
  • Divest $1.9 million in detention by continuing limits on jail population. During COVID, King County has reduced the daily adult population in the jail to 1,300, down from approximately 1,900 pre-COVID, and the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention and others will seek to maintain and further reductions. This will allow closure of one floor (out of 12) at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle.
  • Invest $600,000 to respond to regional gun violence. Public Health Seattle-King County’s Zero Youth Detention program will continue the regional gun violence prevention initiative in 2021-2022. This program is focused on areas of the County experiencing increases in gun violence, particularly among young people of color.
  • Invest $2.7 million in a community justice model to divert first-time non-violent felony filings from the judicial system, offering services to break the cycle of chronic offenses. The Executive’s Office will work with the Department of Community and Human Services, and community organizations to implement King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg’s proposal to divert approximately 1,000 non-violent “first felony” filings from the judicial system each year. Instead of facing traditional prosecution, these individuals – who are facing their first felony charge and are disproportionately young men of color – will be offered a community-based alternative that emphasizes restorative justice and restoration for harmed parties. Violent crimes and crimes against people are not eligible.
  • Reimagine fare enforcement on Metro. Metro Transit will partner with King County Sheriff’s Office, cities, employees, and community members to co-create new alternatives to traditional fare enforcement, which has had a disproportionate negative impact on riders of color.
  • Invest in community engagement. The 2021-2022 Proposed Budget makes investments to change the County’s approach to working with community to support co-creation and the long-term success of community-based organizations. This includes creating a participatory budgeting effort to determine how to invest $10 million in new capital projects in the urban unincorporated areas of Skyway, White Center, Fairwood, East Federal Way, and East Renton.

I look forward to sharing more information on these and other proposals in my 2021-2022 Proposed Budget Address next week and in the coming weeks. I also look forward to working with you to implement them. They move us closer to our We are racially just value, and our vision of a strong, racially equitable, and just county that lives up to the principles of its namesake, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Dow Constantine
King County Executive