Murray questions County plan to ‘book and release’ more felony suspects

Mayor Ed Murray has serious concerns about a King County proposal to release additional felony suspects in property crime cases immediately after booking in downtown Seattle. The mayor outlined his concerns today in a letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

This proposed plan presents an unacceptable public safety risk to the residents of Seattle and will undermine our mutual efforts to reduce drug and property crimes,” wrote Murray. “This proposal also has serious potential policing and budget implications for the City of Seattle.”

On Feb. 1, King County plans to reduce the inmate population by instituting a “book-and-release” policy for several felony drug and property offenses, including auto theft, hit and run (with injury), malicious mischief, reckless endangerment, stolen property, theft, vehicle prowl and drug possession.

The proposed plan will mean that suspects arrested for these crimes in communities around King County will be brought to Seattle to be booked and then released onto the streets of downtown.

Currently, judges individually assess each suspect booked at the jail to decide whether to hold them pending trial. The proposed County plan would eliminate a judge’s review in favor of a presumption of release for these non-violent offenses.

In his letter, Murray outlined alternatives to reduce burdens on the jail (reducing the time between a suspect’s arraignment and trial), as well as reduce impacts on the city (remote booking or mandatory return transportation for suspects brought downtown for booking from jurisdictions outside of Seattle).