Seattle-Tuesday, May 30, 2023: Today, City Attorney Ann Davison announced she will scale up the City Attorney’s Office’s use of pre-filing diversion services. This announcement follows a decision last week to end the office’s participation in a costly and ineffective criminal justice alternative called Community Court.
“With our office’s limited resources, it’s critical that we make data driven decisions to invest in the most effective programs. Our data shows that pre-filing diversion is more effective compared to Community Court,” said City Attorney Ann Davison. “Accountability is not just for defendants, it’s for our systems as well. When a city program isn’t working, it’s up to us to implement better alternatives.”
Pre-filing diversion operates by rapidly engaging with an individual who has had a police referral to the City Attorney’s Office. By contrast, many cases in Community Court lingered for over a year without any meaningful intervention with defendants.
“The data over the past year is clear. Community Court takes far too long to engage individuals with services or resolve their cases. Furthermore, two-thirds of defendants did not show up to court in order to participate and receive those services,” said Natalie Walton-Anderson, Criminal Chief of the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. “I look forward to working with our partners such as CHOOSE 180, Urban League and Unified Outreach to scale up our diversion alternatives.”
The City Attorney’s Office notified parties on Friday of the discontinued participation in Community Court’s failed model. Among the reasons cited were:
- Only 22% of participants ever graduated from Community Court or engaged with services.
- Defendants did not show for court hearings, wasting prosecutor and court time.
- Defendants with compounding criminal cases like felonies were still eligible to participate in Community Court with their misdemeanor cases.
The recidivism rate of Community Court for two years after engagement was 52% compared to a recidivism rate with Pre-filing Diversion of 23% over the same span of time.