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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

King County Wants You To Take Up a Life of Crime

posted by on October 29 at 15:17 PM

If you’ve always dreamed of quitting your job to become a petty criminal or drug dealer but haven’t yet gathered up the chutzpah to finally flip off your boss and walk out the door, now might be the time.

Because of a massive, sucking hole in King County’s budget, a number of agencies have been asked to make drastic cuts to staff, work hours and services.
As Erica C. Barnett posted last week, domestic violence and public health programs are getting the axe, and agencies like the King County Prosecutor’s office are completely revamping and rethinking how to prosecute crimes through the next budget cycle.

In August, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg sent a memo to law enforcement agencies laying out the county’s plans for coping with with an 11% budget cut.

In the letter, Satterberg told police and prosecutors that a number of smaller property crimes and drug crimes valued under $1,000—such as theft, forgery, possession of stolen property, malicious mischief, insurance fraud, organized retail theft, burglary, identity theft and money laundering—would be kicked down to municipal courts around the county.

“It puts us in a difficult position but we’re going to do what we can,” says City Attorney Tom Carr. “The mayor refused to budget for these additional cases. We’re kind if caught in the middle.”

In 2003, KC decided to stop handling “trace drug paraphernalia” cases, and the city picked up the slack. Carr says that city prosecutors expected to receive about 150 drug cases in the first year, but ended up flooded with an additional 900.

The county has projected it will hand over about 1,200 petty theft cases to city courts this year, but with the economy in the shitter, there’s always the chance that prosecutors could see a higher number of theft cases. “I’m very concerned about my staff and their ability to do their job,” Carr says.

The budget has also forced the county to cut drug diversion and mental health court programs and under the new filing standards, you can get busted with up to 3 grams of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine, 20 ecstasy pills, 50 prescription pills, 100 grams of pot or 12 plants and walk away with a gross misdemeanor. Remember, kids: drug dealing is recession proof.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says about 1,500 drug cases will end up in King County District Court. Is King County finally easing up on drug crime? “Those are decisions I get to make about what our priorities are,” Satterberg says. “I think in any evaluation of the work that we do, those cases are going to come out toward the bottom of our priority list. We can achieve significant budget savings but I think it’s…a defensible public policy as well.”

Defensible public policy? Sound like King County is giving permission to potheads to start their own grow-ops.

On the other hand, even if you do end up in court, there’s still an off chance that KC could screw up and leave you in jail longer than they’re allowed to.

The county will soon require employees to take 10-day furloughs (i.e., unpaid vacations), but the prosecutor’s office is still going to have to maintain a skeleton crew.

“There’ll still be skeletal operations during the furlough days but that might be 5 percent of the office handling the rush file cases and to do the arraignment calendars and the juvenile stuff,” Satterberg says.

“We’re feeling the pinch right now,” Satterberg says. “We have taken a 27 [full-time employee] cut. You can’t do everything well when you’re cutting 11 percent out of your budget.”

RSS icon Comments


This is a bad idea in general, but burglary REALLY shouldn't be on that list. Burglaries can go real wrong, real fast.

Posted by Matthew | October 29, 2008 3:24 PM

More like ECB wants to be retarded on purpose. Of course if they decided NOT to cut the budget you would have reamed them for prosecuting drug cases and instead of funding domestic violence prevention and bike subsidies.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 3:29 PM

The Puget Sound plutocracy aided by Gregoire and Nichols is further trying to reduce the quality of life.

The ultimate goal is to force out the small homeowners in and around Seattle so they can build gigantic megaplexs and pay as little as possible for the land by increasing crime and homelessness and reducing jobs.

Smart folks should get

Posted by John Bailo | October 29, 2008 3:37 PM

You first, Bailo.

Posted by Matthew | October 29, 2008 3:40 PM

No problem.

See you in AGRARIA!

Posted by John Bailo | October 29, 2008 3:43 PM

It's not so bad. Those things haven't been prosecuted by the city in a long time here, and SF is still a lovely place to live. Sadly (I guess?), I'm not being sarcastic.

Posted by Dougsf | October 29, 2008 3:45 PM

Whereas you, Bellevue Ave, were just born that way (see the byline).

Posted by ECB | October 29, 2008 3:52 PM

Whoring still pays pretty well too. Time's like these it's a good thing to have good clients.

Posted by Enigma | October 29, 2008 4:09 PM

Oooooh, I misread the byline cause your post was above this one.

Point still stands. You belly-ache about your pet projects being cut.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 4:19 PM

and you should be insulted that Jonah's writing could be easily substituted for yours without raising alarm.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 29, 2008 4:20 PM

Hey if anyone has seen Dan ask him to give me a better answer regarding my frozen cum cumundrum.

Posted by John Bailo | October 29, 2008 4:21 PM

Maybe governments are finally starting to realize that the pointless "war on drugs" is costly with no return on that investment?

Posted by Chris | October 29, 2008 4:44 PM

We're wasting too many tax dollars on cops and prisons already.

The only part of the budget that grows in good times AND in bad times - and, yet, solves nothing.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 29, 2008 4:47 PM

@13 - Shut the fuck up, Will. Or better yet, why don't you put on a dress and we'll have State DOC send Kevin Coe over to your house for a few hours and then let's hear what you have to say about the criminal justice. Or maybe we can have those parents in Carnation with 48-pound 14-year old babysit your kids for a few weeks. Stop being such an ass.

Posted by Lionel Hutz | October 29, 2008 5:11 PM

I used to serve with cops, moron.

The day you get some balls is the day someone loses theirs by mistake.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 30, 2008 12:05 AM

Will - I said "shut the fuck up" and STOP being such an ass. What part of that is difficult to understand?

Posted by Lionel Hutz | October 30, 2008 7:15 AM

This is no big deal. Last year, with a flush budget, the King County Prosecutor reduced 36% of its felony filings in superior court to misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors. Spokane County reduced 5%.

Posted by Algernon | October 30, 2008 8:36 AM

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