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BREAKING: Seattle plans to shutter downtown jail, juvenile detention centers after city council votes to defund police

Seattle's King County is planning on closing the county jail in Seattle and has no plan to replace it. There are additional plans to end all youth detention by 2025.
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA

Seattle's King County is planning on closing the county jail in Seattle and has no plan to replace it. There are additional plans to end all youth detention by 2025 and convert the facilities to community centers.

This according to leaked emails from Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention Director John Diaz stating that the county is planning a "phased closing of the Seattle jail," to replace it with "prevention, diversion, rehabilitation, and harm reduction" programs.

These planned closures are during a time when Seattle has seen a dramatic increase in violent crime and record numbers of police officers transferring, retiring or quitting the Seattle Police Department. Two-thirds of the departing officers stated in their exit interviews that they were leaving because of vilification by Seattle politicians.

The Seattle City Council last week announced that they had voted to defund the Seattle Police Department by 50 percent. This move was not supported by Mayor Jenny Durkan and was called reckless by SPD chief Carmen Best. The savings would come in the form of personnel removed from duty.

The move by King County is couched in COVID-19 response but opponents point to data showing that both locally and across the country released prisoners continue to re-offend.

The downtown Seattle facility is one of the largest mental health facilities in the county and the only one that cares for violent patients. This new move will likely add to the growing demand for mental health facilities with no solution presented by city, county or state officials.

Last night, four separate shootings left three dead and five injured in the Seattle area. One of the shootings was in the proximity of the Everspring Motel which is being a facility under control of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program (LEAD). The LEAD program, run by Lisa Dugaard and copied across the country by cities like New York for their bail reform measures, has also been linked to increased recidivism rates in Seattle. This was the second shooting near the facility.

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