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Seattle-area prosecutor defends light-on-crime approach for teens wielding guns at school: ‘Get used to this’

A Seattle-area prosecutor was slammed over a recent presentation to law enforcement officials in which he insisted police should “get used to” the district attorney’s office allowing juvenile suspects – even those accused of bringing a gun to school – to avoid jail time.

Ben Carr, senior deputy prosecuting attorney for King County, made a recent Zoom presentation on “considerations for juvenile suspects.” 

“Even for serious offenses the primary focus will be on rehabilitation,” Carr wrote, adding in parentheses, “get used to this concept.” 

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The prosecutor presented a scenario where “young Timmy brings a pistol to school, brandishes it during a confrontation and causes panic,” before debating whether a crime was committed, whether the juvenile court has jurisdiction in this case and what will happen to the kid “in Juvie.” 

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That slide in particular drew ire from officials in the Seattle suburb of Federal Way, which has seen at least six instances over the past year of guns confiscated at schools in its district. 

(Seattle Police Department / Facebook)

According to the presentation, if a student enters juvenile court, the case will result in “most likely, no time in custody and no ultimate conviction.” Carr then presented on a “new concept of diversion,” after King County Council recently approved a “restorative community pathways” program for juveniles. 

Juveniles or adults charged with a first-time “non-violent felony offense” may be offered an opportunity to skirt appearing before a judge and instead face a “non-profit community panel” to decide how they “can be held accountable for their crime.” 

A copy of the presentation was obtained by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH

“That we should ‘get used to it?’ It was shocking to me,” Dana Ralph, mayor of the Seattle suburb of Kent, told KTTH, explaining she was not on the Zoom but got wind of the presentation afterward.

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Carr was forced to explain to his boss why the slideshow featured a popular meme of a dog sipping coffee in a burning building. “This is fine,” the dog says ironically, surrounded by flames.

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After officials on the Zoom call complained, Carr sent a copy of the PowerPoint presentation to Jimmy Hung, the chief deputy prosecutor in the juvenile division. Carr explained the context of the meme but also asserted that, “Needless to say, future meetings will focus less on collegiality and more on data.”

Police responded to a shooting in the 200 block of Yesler Way in the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

Police responded to a shooting in the 200 block of Yesler Way in the Pioneer Square neighborhood.
(Seattle Police Department)

Carr noted, “Obviously, ‘This is fine’ was used to make two points: 1) that significant system change is happening around us right now, and 2) that a large portion of the changes are overdue, being done to address racial disproportionality and over-incarceration, and that we should take a moment — in all sincerity, not just ironically — to consider that these changes may actually be ‘fine.'”

The initial proposal for the restorative justice program was submitted by the groups Collective Justice, Creative Justice, CHOOSE 180 and Community Passageways. Carr said 40% of youth will be referred away from prosecution to the program, with a goal of increasing that amount the next few years. 

KTTH said those groups that submitted the program proposal are run by liberal activists, many of whom have advocated for either abolishing or defunding the Seattle Police Department. 

According to Carr’s presentation, juveniles accused of assault, burglary, criminal trespassing, felony harassment, obstructing a law enforcement officer or second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm can still be referred to the restorative justice program and avoid appearing before a judge.

Seattle, Washington (iStock)

Seattle, Washington (iStock)

The program will also accept juveniles accused of “organized retail theft” or those either found to be in possession of a stolen vehicle or who take a vehicle without permission. As long as the juvenile didn’t use a deadly weapon or firearm in carrying out the carjacking, restorative justice is an option for them. 

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Mayors in the Seattle-area cities of Kent, Auburn, Federal Way and Renton spoke out against the restorative justice program at the end of December, demanding it be at least placed on hold.

“Instead of trying to meet the cities halfway, the King County prosecutor’s office is running in the opposite direction. It’s an outrageous breach of public trust,” Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell told KING-TV at the time. “One of the things that we’ve been very concerned about is guns at schools. We have had six guns taken off students in Federal Way high schools this school year already. So, the inclusion of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree and unlawful display of a weapon was alarming.”

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