Regional leaders unveil strategies to address repeat offenders

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine and other leaders on Thursday unveiled their new strategies to address the impact of repeat offenders.

A news release from the mayor’s office referred to the offenders as “high barrier individuals” – defined as people at the intersection of the homelessness crisis, criminal legal system, and behavioral health issues and/or substance use disorders.

Four new pilot programs officials unveiled include:

Program 1: ‘Enhanced Shelter with On Demand Behavioral Health Services’

Under the "Enhanced Shelter with On Demand Behavioral Health Services" program, King County will create an around-the-clock 60-bed enhanced shelter that will provide “on demand behavioral health, supportive housing, and case management services on the second floor of the King County Correctional Facility west wing.”

A total of $4 million will be allocated for capital and an additional $800,000 for program operations, officials said.

“The City and County will share these costs evenly, and accordingly Mayor Durkan’s Proposed Budget for 2020 includes $2.0 million for capital and $400,000 for operating costs,” the mayor’s office wrote in a news release.

Officials said services are expected to begin by mid-2020.

Program 2: ‘Rapid Re-Entry Connector’ 

Under to "Rapid Re-Entry Connector" program, $212,500 of Durkan’s proposed 2020 budget will go to a pilot program that leaders said would “address the lack of release planning services available for those who rapidly exit the facility.”

According to the mayor’s office, the program would embed a “reentry planner” position in Jail Health Services who would help determine what services would be appropriate for a released individual.

Those services include: Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, the West Wing Enhancement Shelter, community based treatment, services and housing.

Program 3: ‘HB Probation’ 

Under the "HB Protection" program, $170,000 of Durkan’s 2020 proposed budget would go to a program that officials said would feature “a smaller, specialized caseload for Seattle Municipal Court probation counselors who have training in harm-reduction and trauma-informed care strategies for a group of high barrier clients.”

Durkan said the counselor would introduce graduated sanctions, offer incentives for positive behavior, meet with individuals away from the courthouse and schedule more review hearings with judges.

The mayor’s office said the city’s funding would be paired with $120,000 of additional Municipal Court resources and if approved by the City Council could begin “as soon as late 2019.”

Program 4: ‘Case Conferencing & Support by Seattle’s City Attorney’s Office’

Under the "Case Conferencing & Support by Seattle’s City Attorney’s Office" program, $150,000 of the mayor's 2020 proposed budget would go to a “case conferencing approach with support by the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.”

Durkan said the “conferencing approach” would be responsible for:

- Coordination across systems and programs.
- Addressing those high barrier individuals involved in diversion programs.
- Court programs or post-sentencing probation.
- Working both at a macro level to assess whether existing and proposed pilot programs are working and on individual cases.

Durkan said the program is expected to begin in early 2020

Watch the full news conference from Durkan and Constantine below: