Seattle Considering ‘Poverty Defense’ That Excuses Criminals Based On Their Needs

by Damjan Tutarkov
LaCorte News

The Seattle City Council considers changing its criminal code to protect from prosecution offenders who commit misdemeanor crimes if those crimes are linked to poverty, addiction, or mental issues.

The “poverty defense” regulation was discussed last week by the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety Committee, about two months after it was first proposed by Councilmember Lisa Herbold and Anita Khandelwal, the King County’s director of the Department of Public Defense.

“The defendant would just have to prove that the needs fit within the definition of immediate basic need,” Asha Venkataraman, a member of the council’s Central Staff, told the Public Safety Committee last Tuesday, according to KOMO-TV.

“If somebody stole a bunch of cell phones and intended to resell them to pay their rent, it would apply to that defense,” Venkatarama said.

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