Crime and Consequences in Seattle
The WSJ borrowed our name in this editorial. I’m cool with that.
Policy news flash: Fighting crime reduces crime. The latest evidence comes from Seattle, of all places, where City Attorney Ann Davison’s efforts are showing results.
In Washington State, city attorneys only have jurisdiction over misdemeanors, but misdemeanors matter.
Ms. Davison focused on the frequent fliers among Seattle’s minor league criminals: 168 people who committed a disproportionate number of the crimes, mostly theft. She had to negotiate to get the county jail to house them.
She also pushed through a reform that excludes from Seattle’s notoriously lenient Community Court anyone who had 12 or more charges referred to the city attorney for prosecution over the past five years, including one in the past eight months. Their cases are now handled by the Municipal Court, where they can face bail requirements and jail time.
Twelve strikes and your out is a “reform” in Seattle. Wow. But you do what you can do, and even these modest changes have shown results. The 168 people noted above have dropped from an average of 6.3 misdemeanor criminal referrals per year to 2.7, achieved by locking them up. Note that these are only the crimes for which they were caught. The number committed by these very experienced thieves is unknown and unknowable but surely much higher, and a reduction in rate is proportionately greater.
Ms. Davison has persevered despite criticism from Seattle progressives, but the facts vindicate her approach. Imagine: Crime falls when you arrest and punish criminals.
Yup. We’ve been saying that for decades, and people of sense have always known it. It is astonishing how many people have naively swallowed the contrary propaganda in recent years, but opinion is turning around.