It might seem like a trite old maxim, but “think globally, act locally” is just plain good advice. That’s because – unless you’re a billionaire or someone with a national megaphone – the best way to influence what’s going on in our world starts at home.
One way that anti-Trump Seattleites can do that this November is to focus on getting Daron Morris elected as our new King County Prosecutor. Why is this important to the resistance? Because dismantling systemic white supremacy will destroy one of the roots of Trumpism; and one of the places where systemic white supremacy has its ugliest impacts is in the criminal justice system:
- People of color make up 30% of the US population, but 60% of our prison population. (source)
- Black and Latinx young people represent more than 70% of those involved in arrests or law enforcement referrals from school. (source)
- Black people are given sentences that are 20% longer on average than white people for the same crimes. (source)
What’s especially problematic is that 95% of these people never got a jury trial. They took what’s called a “plea deal,” where they plead guilty to a lesser crime in order to avoid going to trial; and many of these people are not guilty of the crimes they’re pleading guilty to.
Why plead guilty to a crime you didn’t commit? Prosecutors often use the inadequacies of our justice system to coerce people into accepting plea deals. Most people don’t have the luxury of hiring an attorney and must rely on a public defender, but according to the Department of Justice, 73% of county public defender offices exceed the maximum recommended limit of cases. Too often, this leads to inadequate representation, which creates a credible risk that the accused person would end up doing more jail time for a crime they didn’t commit. Most folks don’t like those odds, so they take the plea deal to be done with it.
When asked about plea bargain rates, current Prosecutor Dan Satterberg defended his office by pointing out to The Stranger that, “there is nothing unusual to King County in our system.” Given the statistics we talked about above, the fact that Satterberg sees the status quo as even remotely defensible speaks to the root of the problem Morris aims to address.
Prosecutors have tremendous discretion when it comes to this process; and while Morris won’t commit to reducing the percentage of plea deals, he does say that he’ll be reviewing the tactics that prosecuting attorneys use to offer plea deals to make sure they aren’t coercive.
Here are a few other reasons why I like Morris.
|New Youth Jail||Opposes||Supports|
|Distinguishing consensual sex work from human trafficking||Supports||Opposes|
|Vacating marijuana convictions||Supports||Non-committal|
|Charging minors in adult court||Opposes||Supports|
For even more information about what Daron Morris would change on day 1 in office as King County Prosecutor, click here.
For more on why prosecutors are so important, you can watch this powerful video:
Other things you can do locally to push back on systemic white supremacy in our criminal justice system, locally and nationwide: