Seattle City Attorney and King County Public Defender say judicial system doesn`t work for repeat offenders with mental illness

SEATTLE - The Seattle City Attorney and the King County Public Defender say the judicial system is failing repeat offenders who suffer from mental illness, but community ask what can be done instead.

Thursday, the Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and King County Public Defender Anita Khandelwal  said the judicial system is failing people with mental illness.

“We’re still pushing up hill against a system that was never designed to address the underlying conduct. The reason they are cycling in and out of the system is because the system either has inadequate resources,” said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.

“From my perspective when you have someone cycling through the system like that, you have evidence the system isn’t working and we must do something differently,” said King County Public Defender Anita Kandelwal.

However, Seattle business representatives say something needs to be done to address the issue of repeat offenders.

“This isn’t working, and that’s the piece I get a little bit frustrated with when I’m hearing this, because we don’t disagree. This county this state is woefully behind in what the mental services we have to offer in this county and this city. But, at the same point we’re giving people mental health and substitutes as their sentence, but not following up to make sure they do it,” said Erin Goodman.

Goodman is the Executive Director of the SoDo Business Improvement Area.

She says in the more than four years she’s held the title, SoDo has only gotten worse.

“The crime numbers down here, specifically in property crime, have risen significantly in the past four years,” she said. “It’s frustrating and we have lost businesses,” she added. 

Goodman says if officials aren’t going to make changes, then the community needs to be the ones to step up.

“We have to believe it can be fixed, that’s what people want to do down here. They don’t want to give up,” said Goodman.

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