When someone has been charged with a crime and is awaiting trial, judges have a number of choices. They can hold defendants in jail, release them on personal recognizance, set bail, or allow them to take advantage of less restrictive community corrections alternatives, such as electronic home-monitoring or work release.
But according to Metropolitan King County Council Chair Bob Ferguson, judges often don’t have critical information about an offender’s previous convictions in front of them when making that decision.
Ferguson last week introduced legislation that would ban criminal defendants with a history of sexual or violent crimes from being released under the community corrections alternatives.
Ferguson is proposing a moratorium on such releases for violent or sexual offenders until the county can implement a valid assessment tool to help inform judges’ decisions.
The tool, which Ferguson says would likely be based on inexpensive software, would provide results similar to what is already being done by hand in juvenile court.