Criminal Justice Reform

Our current legal system does not work. We need to be proactive instead of reactive to truly address the root causes of crime.

The issue of criminal justice reform is the outcropping of rampant inequality, underinvestment in communities, not having adequate resources for everything from schools and public transportation to access to nutritious food. The majority of the King County budget goes to jails and courts, and we’re using that to criminalize poverty, Blackness, mental health crises, and addiction.

As a society we used to spend the same amount of resources on social services as we did on the legal system. However, due to the failed “war on drugs” and other ineffective policies – King County now spends 73% of the general fund on justice and safety.

We know we can prevent crime in the first place by investing in people’s basic needs and funding essential services.

In the near-term we can do the following to address the current system;

  • Scale up the work of existing trusted organizations operating in communities.
  • Augment re-entry services to individuals leaving King County facilities to prevent recidivism.  
  • Divert youth from our criminal system and allowing our juvenile courts to send young people to facilities in our communities instead of incarceration.

The truth is a nearly $250 million youth jail should have never been built.

We should create alternative-to-placement programs with graduated levels of supervision and services to ensure that youth are placed in programs that help them desist from delinquency and progress personally.

I got into politics to do the work needed to make change—and as I got into the work, it became clear to me that so many of the issues within our legal system are symptoms of over-investing in ineffective means to address a whole host of human service failures.