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Re-entry Workgroup Recommendations for Those Being Released From Incarceration; Showbox Update; Closed Captioning; October Constituent Email Report

Re-entry Workgroup Recommendations for Those Being Released From Incarceration

Last November I shared with you the efforts of the Seattle Re-entry Workgroup.  Resolution 31637, passed in 2015, convened a workgroup to develop policies and strategies to strengthen the City of Seattle’s effort to assist with reentry after incarceration including reducing recidivism, and alleviating the negative impact of incarceration on individuals.

Workgroup members with lived experience of incarceration led much of this work and participated in two years of meetings and many hours exchanging stories of incarceration and the transition after release.   You can find the report here, below are the highlights:

Strategy 1 | Indigenous Healing

  1. Invest in specific strategies that center and support the reentering Indigenous community members.
  2. Elevate Indigenous voices in efforts focused on criminal legal system policy and reform Contract solely with jails that provide access to religious and spiritual services
  3. Ensure that all homeless prevention, anti-poverty, or reentry investments strategies include targeted supports for the Indigenous community

Strategy 2 | Reentry Healing & Navigation

  1. Fund community-rooted “Reentry Navigators” who can provide anti-racist support and navigation services for individuals currently incarcerated and those returning from incarceration
  2. Reconsider contracts that require elevated surveillance by agency staff
  3. Reconsider using recidivism as an outcome measurement

Strategy 3 | Economic Opportunities

  1. Explore ways to increase formerly incarcerated individuals’ opportunity with City Requests for Proposals and City Public Works Projects through Priority Hire
  2. Increase City TechHireOpportunities
  3. Increase City Employment and Recruitment
  4. Support Priority Hire Tracking and Accountability

Strategy 4 | Housing

  1. Match housing investments for those currently involved with the criminal justice system to the City’s current jail expenditure
  2. Dedicate a portion of the City’s investments to end homelessness to individuals living with criminal history
  3. Develop technical assistance programs to enable those living with criminal history to be mortgage-ready
  4. Whenever possible, redefine “homelessness” for non-HUD funded projects
  5. Create a mechanism to provide rent assistance to individuals currently being incarcerated by the City’s criminal legal system
  6. Work with public housing providers to ensure they comply with Fair Chance Housing

Strategy 5 | City’s Use of Jails

  1. Reduce the use of jail – What are the City’s defined outcomes for jail contracts? Do these investments help the City reach these outcomes?
  2. City criminal legal system partners should evaluate current sentencing framework to make a shared commitment in reducing the use of jail for misdemeanors
  3. Work to eliminate as many beds as feasible in the current contract
  4. Manage jail contracts to ensure access to care

Strategy 6 | Decriminalization

  1. Seattle City Council should repeal SMC 12A.20.050 – Drug-Traffic Loitering and repeal SMC 12A.10.010 – Prostitution Loitering
  2. City Attorney’s Office should exercise prosecutorial discretion, such as: do not request jail time for those charged with theft and decline to prosecute for drug traffic loitering and prostitution loitering crimes
  3. Seattle Police Department should limit arrests for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses and increase use of citations, summons, or forms of diversion; develop a more accurate way to develop race data

Strategy 7 |Reentry Workgroup’s Next Phase

  1. City should establish a criminal legal system advisory board that: Informs City policies that impact the criminal legal system and/or reentry support; Monitors the implementation of any recommendation from this report; Is led by those with lived experience and equipped with a strong analysis of systemic racism and the criminal legal system.
  2. Assessment of how the City’s imposition and collections of fines and fees for criminal violations and infractions and the impact of such on successful reentry.

In producing and delivering the report, many individuals and organizations provided support and expertise. Because I found these words moving and inspirational, I’d like to share the report authors’ acknowledgement here:

“We also recognize those who have been supporting folks returning from incarceration and organizing for institutional change for a very long time. We know that much of that work has been done without compensation or acknowledgment yet done with love and an unyielding commitment to family and community strength. We thank you for that work and hope these recommendations support you. We also acknowledge that the individuals most impacted by the recommendations in this report are unable to join us at the City’s tables, as they are still incarcerated. We did this work in your honor.”

 

Showbox Update

Here are some updates on efforts thus far to explore options for preserving the Showbox.  I believe the Council and Mayor have a shared recognition of the Showbox as a significant cultural resource and an historic performance venue that has launched the careers of local, national, and international musicians.

Pike Place Market Historical District Boundary Extension

BACKGROUND

If you remember, with passage the August of Ordinance 125660, the City extended the boundaries, on an interim basis, of the Pike Place Market Historical District to include the Showbox.  I wrote about that vote in August, you can read more here.

With the Showbox now within the boundaries of the Pike Place Market Historical District, the Pike Place Market Historical Commission has authority to receive development proposals for the site as well as authority for “the preservation, restoration and improvement of such buildings and uses in the Historical District, as in the opinion of the Commission shall be deemed to have architectural, cultural, economic and historical value.”

NEXT STEPS

The 2019-2020 City of Seattle Budget included funding for a near term workplan to exploring whether the interim expansion enacted by Ordinance 125660 should be made permanent.  Here is what I understand to be the work of the Executive as relates to consideration of the interim expansion:

August 2018-April 2019 – The Department of Neighborhoods will: a. review the historic significance of the Showbox Theater, b. study the relationship between the Showbox Theater and the Pike Place Market, c. consider the development of amendments to the Pike Place Market Historical District Design Guidelines related to the Showbox Theater, d. potentially draft legislation, e. conduct outreach to stakeholders.  f. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection will conduct State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review on permanent expansion of the Historical District, as appropriate.

March 2019: SDCI will publish SEPA threshold determination, if necessary.

May 2019: Mayor transmits legislation to Council, if permanent boundary expansion proposed.

June 2019: Council deliberations on proposed expansion of the Historical District, if proposed.

July 2019: If Council passes legislation, permanent district expansion effective.

I have asked the Mayor for confirmation of this schedule.

Landmark Preservation

BACKGROUND

The City’s Historic Resources Survey identifies multiple structures in the vicinity of the District that may be eligible as landmarks but are not currently designated as landmarks. In addition to the consideration of a permanent expansion of the Pike Market Historical District, Historic Seattle, Vanishing Seattle, and Friends of Historic Belltown have submitted a nomination to the Landmarks Preservation Board to designate the Showbox as an historic landmark.  Should the Landmarks Preservation Board do so, they then have the authority to approve controls and incentives and grant certificates of approval for any future modifications to the Showbox.

NEXT STEPS

The staff for the Landmarks Preservation Board has indicated that they have been working to identify a meeting date for discussion of this application.  Today my office was told that they have given the owner two additional weeks to agree to the March 6 meeting date.  Owner consent is not required but as an operating practice the Landmarks Preservation Board seeks agreement.  As another operating practice, the Landmarks Preservation Board gives at least three weeks’ notice of meetings.  For high-profile nominations, they strive to provide additional notice.  The Bertha Knight Landes Room has been reserved for March 6.

Interdepartmental Team Work

BACKGROUND

Last August, the Mayor convened an Inter-departmental Team (IDT) with representation from the Department of Neighborhoods, the Department of Construction and Inspections, the Office of Arts and Culture, the Office of Film and Music, and the Office of Housing.

NEXT STEPS

I don’t know if that IDT is continuing to meet.  Because of what I believe to be our shared objectives, I have requested the Mayor to include representation from the Council on the IDT as well as an update on whether there has been progress in their efforts.

Closing

The City has been a partner in the successful community efforts to preserve Washington Hall, the Fifth Avenue Theatre, as well as other cultural spaces, not to mention the important revival of cultural spaces like the Black and Tan Hall.  Nevertheless, we are all too aware that those contributing to Seattle’s cultural community are among those at risk of displacement.

As a City of Music, Seattle has many programs, developed by the Seattle Music Commission and produced in partnership with many local public, nonprofit, and independent organizations.  Though these programs provide critical support to the music industry and broader Seattle music community, they can only go so far.  We must leave no stone left unturned, so that this cherished performance venue can be valued by Seattle’s music community for generations to come.

 

Closed Captioning

If you regularly watch Council meetings you may have noticed something different this week. On Monday, Seattle Channel added closed captioning to the broadcast of Seattle City Council meetings. Until now, hard-of-hearing and deaf individuals were essentially shut out of the conversation because they could not hear the discussion as it was taking place, or even after the fact.

I have Council oversight of budget and policy issues related to disabilities.  The addition of closed captioning is part of the Seattle City Council’s objective to increase accessibility to Seattle government.  The Seattle Channel was able to add closed-captions to the broadcast of City Council meetings as a result of a budget proposal I made in last year’s budget that the Council adopted.

The Seattle City Clerk provides accommodations to Council meetings, including translation and interpretation services, and the Council Chamber is equipped with assisted listening devices and an induction loop system.

Here’s a link to my press release announcing the inclusion of closed captioning.

I want to take a moment to thank the Commission for People with DisAbilities and the Seattle Channel for their work, without which this would not have been possible.

 

October Constituent Email Report

Constituent correspondence is a very important task in my office.  My staff and I spend time every day helping you improve our community, whether that’s through getting you help from a city department with our constituent case management services or giving you information about legislation that the Council is considering.  The unshaded categories and numbers are problem-solving emails answered in November, what I refer to above as “case management services.”

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