Chamber hosts Manion, Ferrell for King County Prosecutors Debate

Advocacy, In the News,
The Bellevue Chamber hosted a King County Prosecutors debate this last week, bringing candidates Leesa Manion and Jim Ferrell to the stage to chat about their experience, greatest differences, and priorities for the Prosecutor's Office if elected. 

KING 5’s Steve Soliz moderated the discussion, asking hard-hitting questions on the Restorative Community Pathways program, public safety, the 3-Strike Rule, juvenile justice, and the like. Here are some highlights: 

  • Q: Both you and your opponent have expressed the desire to revisit and rework the Restorative Community Pathways program — in what ways is the program in need of reform and what steps will you take to improve it?

    • Ferrell: "I think it's critically important. This program, RCP, is geared toward juveniles, and we can all agree that what we want to ensure is that when a young person makes a mistake and commits a crime, that they get course corrected — that’s critical. But there’s a huge difference between misdemeanor crimes, which by law need to be diverted, and felony crimes. I plan to fix RCP on the first day that I am King County Prosecutor. You need case numbers, appearance before a court, a report back if they ever showed up … None of that is in place now, and that is a failure of the system."

    • Manion: "I know that diversion works because the data shows us that it does. Police referrals for juvenile crime have fallen by 90%, and for violent crime, 70%. And unlike my opponent, I actually have experience working with the community to build proven and effective diversion programs. I was co-founding partner of CHOOSE 180, and we do have mandatory diversion in our state for all juvenile misdemeanors … RCP is not a free pass. We know that RCP is working, because it has a recidivism rate of only 8%, compared to local sanctions which is 20%, and compared to traditional prosecution and a sentence at our state facility is at 58% … RCP isn’t broken, it is our most cost-effective and most advanced rehabilitation and crime prevention strategy for juveniles."

  • Q: In recent years, some jurisdictions have worked to greatly reform, and in some cases, even abolish, bail. What bail standards would you and your deputy prosecutors be implementing as you go into arraignment hearings, and do you support efforts to abolish bail?

    • Manion: "I do not support efforts to abolish bail because we simply do not have the type of alternatives we need to keep our communities safe. Public safety is my number one priority, and individuals who commit violent crimes, repeat offenses, sexual assaults, should be held to protect public safety. Cash bail was developed as a way to encourage people to return to court, and we know from research that there are effective alternatives that can protect public safety and address root causes. Those things are text reminders, therapeutic alternatives, community housing, electronic monitoring for non-violent offenses. The challenge around eliminating cash bail is that it creates this binary choice for judges: Either retain, or release. "

    • Ferrell: "I have stood in court, probably thousands of times, asking for bail. There’s only three factors that you can use to ask for bail: Are they a danger to the public? Are they a flight risk? … But probably one of the most important reasons is interference with the administration of justice, and the safety of the victims and the witnesses who do cooperate with police. And I can tell you in domestic violence cases, whether they’re misdemeanors or felonies, that is sometimes the difference between life and death. One thing that almost every homicide case, domestic violence homicide case, has in common is a misdemeanor prior … Right now, with the way that bail is being done and people not showing up, it’s really clogging up the court system and we need to push things through and make sure that we are holding people accountable. "

To watch or listen to the full discussion, visit the Chamber’s Vimeo account

King County Prosecutor Debate from Bellevue Chamber on Vimeo.

Also, reminder that Election Day is Nov. 8, so be sure to brief yourself on each candidate and their stances before then. For campaign literature and contact information, refer to the candidates’ respective websites below. 

Meet Leesa 
Meet Jim