On Tuesday, November 17th, the King County Council voted to approve an alternative to the criminal justice system, something that reform advocates see as a victory. The council will hand authority over to community groups which will decide the restitution, instead of a judge, for first-time non-violent offenders. The program is known as Community Restorative Pathways.
The community groups would not be able to assign jail time or a conviction. The proponents argue that this will provide a real pathway back into society for people who accidentally get swept into the system. The program begins with a budget of $6.2M which the county hopes to make up for with closing prisons and jails. In a press release from the County Executive, the following was stated:
Restorative Community Pathways also includes appropriate services and support for harmed parties, and restitution so that youths who cannot pay fines and other financial obligations do not end up in a cycle of probation violations and incarceration. Most of the impacted youth are low-income people of color, and this novel program was conceptualized and developed by community organizations who serve those youth.Executive Constantine highlights anti-racism and criminal legal system transformation in upcoming budget: invest, divest, reimagine