Following a public outcry from city mayors across south King County, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Tuesday introduced a motion that would pause King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office’s highly controversial Restorative Community Pathways (RCP) juvenile criminal diversion program.
“All crimes that hurt the safety of our communities — such as shoplifting rings, home burglaries, and car thefts — need to be taken seriously so that folks are not re-victimized and the security of our neighborhoods is preserved,” Dunn said. “In particular, it is shockingly irresponsible to remove legal consequences for any firearm-related crime at a time when gun violence is surging to an all-time high. There should be real ramifications — including prosecution — for these dangerous crimes.”
Restorative Community Pathways offers diversion for youth involved in a range of felony crimes, including organized retail theft, assault, residential burglary, burglary, and unlawful display and possession of a firearm. Mayors of Kent, Auburn, Federal Way and Renton have expressed deep concern with the program’s diversion of firearm crimes as their communities continue to endure record-high levels of gun violence.
“Deferrals are an important part of the criminal justice system when matched with the proper judicial oversight and accountability measures,” said Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell. “The problem with the RCP program is it lacks both accountability and oversight. The serious felony crimes included in RCP are adult crimes and should be removed from this program. I support RCP for many misdemeanor crimes, as long as there is a judicial component to assure accountability.”
According to King County’s Shots Fired report, the total number of gunshots fired in King County in Q1-Q3 of 2021 is up 48% from the four-year average. The number of shooting victims is up 76% from the four-year average.
In addition to asking for a pause on Restorative Community Pathways, Dunn’s legislation requests the King County Prosecutor to engage with the Mayors of Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, and Renton to discuss their concerns with the diversion program and to consider removal of certain felony charges from the program, including felony harassment, assault, home burglaries, and unlawful firearm possession. The motion will be referred to the King County Council’s Law and Justice Committee.
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