Twenty-Seven Days for Stealing a Souvenir Penny: What It Would Look Like to Get Tough on Misdemeanors in Seattle



If this is supposed to be some overwhelming proof that we need to elect someone who's proposing to subvert the entire judicial system and set herself up as some sort of all knowing barometer of what is in people's hearts and minds it does a woeful job of making its point. In each case none of the alleged poverty stricken defendants served any real time and in most cases the charges were dismissed if they completed some sort of program. If the prosecutor had just let them go what would have happened? At least in these cases most of them had some sort of contact with the system even it it was ultimately unsuccessful.

Rich of course can't help but reveal his completely unbridled prejudice by stating all cops lie and yet in none of these cases has he shown any untruths by the police. The best can be said is the family in the park overreacted depending on which version of events you believe. What is definitely true is all criminals and addicts lie. What I really take away from Rich's latest attempt to gaslight us and undermine public safety in Seattle is that none of these were crimes of poverty like the progressives keep claiming. They are crimes of addiction and mental illness. We should continue to enforce the criminal code so these people can interact with the programs and people that can help them instead of letting them do whatever they want until they are ready to accept help. The only thing NKT and Rich's vision of Seattle will do is create a class of victims that could have been prevented. I hope readers see through this bullshit and reject NKT's, Rich's and TS's lies and vote for Davison.


Oh for fucks sake stop apologizing for criminals. Minor, major - just fuck of already with the weepy narrative that crime is from poverty. It’s from being a fucking junkie.

Last I checked, needles full of meth or snack aren’t just leaping up from nowhere and injecting innocent bystanders.

Whatever the excuse may be, a crime is a crime is a crime. My parents taught me that stealing was bad…


The one thing that all the boot-licking right wing dickbags in the comments here will definitely not address: Prosecuting these people costs money and does not in anyway prevent crime. These are not the pragmatists in the room. They want to set a shitload of our tax dollars on fire for their "feelings" about "justice". What a bunch of spineless snowflakes.


What a bunch of nonsense. So you went through all these old crime records and cherry-picked the most outlandish ones, in service of the argument that we should stop prosecuting ALL misdemeanors?

Is there any evidence that Ann Davison wants to prosecute someone for stealing an $8 bottle of wine? The focus of her platform is repeat offenders. I'm OK letting a guy off with a warning for stealing an $8 item once, but if the guy was stealing it every single week, he deserves to be prosecuted. The latter is what Davison is promising.

And why do I have a sneaking suspicion that this wasn't the first time the guy had stolen wine, but Rich chose to leave that context out of his summary of the incident, in a dishonest attempt to mislead the reader? Someone should check on that. I've read enough Rich Smith articles to know what to expect by now.

The Stranger and other NTK simps keep putting the words "tough on crime" in Davison's mouth even though that's not her platform and she's never said she wants to be "tough on crime." It's a complete fucking lie and a disgrace to journalism. Just as bad as them calling her a "Trump Republican" when she despises Trump and voted for Joe Biden, unlike NTK.

What's happened is over the last year or two, Rich Smith and the rest of the Stranger staff have developed an obsession with apologizing for any and all criminals and insisting that crimes are actually a social good. When that's your starting point, prosecuting literally any crime becomes "tough on crime", and the only acceptable position is complete abolition of rule of law -- a.k.a. "abolish misdemeanors" and the NTK platform.


@5 Not even remotely correct. Prosecuting these people does prevent crime. The crime they are going to commit tomorrow and the day after and the next and so on if we don't do anything. Yeah it costs money but that is why the city atty's office has a budget and doing nothing costs money as well in the form of shrinkage, lost wages, medicals bills for those who happen to be unlucky enough to encounter one of these down on their luck individuals etc etc. The personal attacks are great though as that just means the merits of what is being suggested is so outlandish its near impossible to support it at face value. Keep up the good work!


Conserva-trolls think throwing the book at homeless people for committing petty crimes will magically make such criminal behavior disappear (not true; if it were, then why is it still happening?). But, ask them if billionaires, who regularly steal from their employees, their customers, their contractors, or even their countries, should be held to the same standard of justice, and they'll defend their actions, which cost us orders of magnitude more than $8.00 bottles of wine or $10 worth of sandwiches, with an almost religious fervor.


Billionaire crimes are even worse than junkies stealing shopping carts full of stuff from Fred Meyer but guess what? Both are crimes and shouldn’t be excused or explained away…

Rich gives an example of a poor, poor homeless fellow who inadvertently gave his name AND birthdate wrong to a cop - riiiight. I forget my name and birthday every day, lol.

He also cites another example of a poor, poor dude stealing some stuff, offer to pay for it (in, why not just do that to begin with) then the horror! He gets nabbed on a warrant!?? Not fair!!

The warrant issue is also exactly shy each and every vagrant camp should be checked for them as well as unregistered sex offenders if the camp is illegal - ie pretty much all of them, trespassing.

It’s this weird apologizing for criminals that is making Seattle multiples more unsafe than it should be. All the “petty” theft just gets passed on to regular old hardworking paying customers. Why that is seemingly invisible to the “progressives” us strange. But, they are largely the ones that see no correlation btw raising property taxes and higher rents also…


Seems like previous prosecutors have done the logical thing and looked at the circumstances of the case and given most of these people a slap on the wrist, rather than blanketing every one with non-prosecution because misdemeanor as is proposed by one candidate.
Is examining the circumstances of a case too much work for them, or?
It also looks like many of these people are repeat offenders, or apparently too incompetent to stand trial and so are just let go back to the street so they do the same behaviors again because they do not know any better.
The candidate will have places for them to go, right? Right?

And where are all these people who are stealing clothes and bread to survive? I witnessed a mugging at gunpoint over by International District, not too long after my friend witnessed the shooting that happened there 2 weeks ago where dude shot 2 people for no reason and hid like a bitch, causing a stand-off.
Like, sometimes a motherfucker just needs jail time idk.


These all sound like blessings in disguise. Broken addicts flushing their lives away given a chance to make a change. What's the upside to just inviting more crime? Saving a few bucks on jail beds?


But guesty, AceCH assures us* that Ann Davidson wouldn't prosecute these people either!!

You guys need to get your stories straight.

except for various suspicions that somebody should check on.


It's just as easy to cherry-pick some of the more egregious examples of repeat offenders to suggest getting tougher on misdemeanors is necessary.

David Ailep Jr.:

Christopher Teel:


@9/10 pivoting from ad hominem attacks to whataboutism, love your usage of logical fallacies to undermine your own argument. Keep digging the hole and demonstrating the insanity of these policies. You are doing a better job than any Davison campaign flyer to convince people that NKT is just blowing smoke up their ass.


If Rich thinks he has done NTK a service with this stories, he has not. In fact this is a ringing endorsement for prosecution of crimes and for Ann Davison as our next city attorney. The main flaw I saw in the pattern here was an undue delay between the arrest and charges filed in some cases. The sooner after the crime there is prosecution and trial, the better. And curious that he chose to ignore the past two years, when crimes are not being prosecuted to the point that people are not bothering to call the cops. As a supporter of Davison, I thank you sincerely. And I hope you get robbed.


Expanding on @18, per the KUOW story linked in the SLOG post:

"Goodwill says its mission is to help people in need – and stealing from Goodwill means stealing from the job training programs that help other low-income people."



Really, Johnny? That's literally all you have in your mighty quiver of insult comebacks? My six year old niece could come up with a better contumelia than that.



Per the terms of use, "You agree not to use The Stranger's website to: (A) publish content that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, obscene, invasive of another's privacy, or reflective of racial or ethnic bias;"

Calling someone a piece of shit and telling them you hope their whole family dies is not o.k. here. I know it's the Stranger and all, but still: if you don't like what people are saying, just leave. You are out of line.


You looked at thousands of misdemeanor cases and those are the ones you chose? The most prosecuted misdemeanor in Seattle is assault. Here's the last one Nicole Thomas-Kennedy defended as a PD:


Everybody loves compassion until it’s their stuff getting stolen and/or wrecked. Then it’s throw the book at ‘em time, which leads me to suspect Mr. Smith has yet to be a victim.


MEB - In general, TS comment section does a pretty good job of expanding on the issue in the article; you on the other hand, have contributed nothing.


@27 I don't know if I'd go that far. MEB continues to demonstrate how little substance NKT and The Strangers argument for the elimination of prosecution is by doubling down on the use of invectives to make a point. I've been called a lot worse but much better people and honestly the comment at 22 sounds just like MEB's hero NKT. Who knows maybe it's her alter ego? lol


If Rich really thinks a just society entails people just stealing from each other whenever they decide they need it more, I would invite him to leave his door unlocked every night and publish his address on posters around the city.

He wants to volunteer all our small business owners and homeowners to be charities for our city's most degenerate criminals, who in Rich's ideal world, would be able to steal and steal and steal without any consequences. It's always easy to volunteer other people to do things you're not willing to do yourself. Get off your high horse and get your hands dirty.

But Rich would never do that because he's a GIANT FUCKING HYPOCRITE. Always willing to throw everyone else under the bus to create his ideology-driven paradise. A paradise he himself would never voluntarily participate in.

And, for Christ's sake, can we kill the "tough on crime" strawman once and for all? DAVISON IS NOT PROMISING TO GET TOUGH ON CRIME. She is simply promising to ACTUALLY DO THE DAMN JOB. Which is, prosecute cases in a fair, just and timely fashion. This is what NTK has sworn NOT to do -- instead she promises to always take the criminal's side in every single case by refusing to prosecute any of those cases. And Rich, who will never be a victim of that crime himself, thinks that's justice.

Fuck you Rich.


We are about a year or two away from inexpensive surveillance networks that use AI and facial recognition and sound alarms when suspected offenders enter businesses that are part of the network. Without some form of theft deterrence this is where many neighborhoods are headed.


Rich, print out this article of yours and put it in a drawer of some kind. Bring it out and reread it someday when you have a daughter.


My heart goes out to people who don't have even the simplest of things - like a roof over their head or a few crumbs to eat. I think a society should be judged by how it treats its poor, its children, and its aged. But I dread the path we will go down if we as a people begin to ignore even simple crime. I don't ever want to send the message that it is OK to take things that aren't yours. I've known hunger, and I've known homelessness. And I know several people who have experienced that misfortune at some point in their lives. It never occurred to them (or to me) to steal from a vendor or rob someone. There are food kitchens and food banks. There are agencies that can help. Do they do a great job? No, but it's something.

I want people to have homes. I want people to be well. I want to end hunger. But I don't want to encourage thievery. That is not the solution.


Obviously, NTK and the Stranger have tired of hearing how NTK's "crimes of poverty" are actually "crimes of addiction," and how no one really gets prosecuted in Seattle just for stealing food. So the Stranger dug and dug and dug, and found some homeless addicts who had stolen food. I guess that's half a win, at least in the eyes of the Stranger and NTK.

'A cop said he found a groggy homeless couple in the parking garage at noon in January of 2018. The guy had a lighter in his hand “and evidence of recent heroin inhalation (residue on foil) lying nearby,” but the cop only arrested him for trespassing.' Eventually, the case was dismissed, and neither person got any jail time. (So much for this article's titular horrific injustice of putting people in jail for such crimes.)

Also, if this "groggy" trespassing couple had been struck by a motorist in the garage, and crippled or even killed, that would have been better for them? How is this case in any way proof we, via our agents of police and courts, should not have intervened?


"A leasing manager came down to verify that the couple didn’t live in the luxury apartments, and then 'admonished' the guy and the woman 'personally, warning them to remain off the property and out of the building.'

"They booked him in jail for trespassing and released him two days later, requiring him to report to the court three days per week. He complied but skipped a day once. The case nearly went to trial that July, and his competency to stand trial was raised multiple times, but the judge ended up dismissing it because the guy completed a court resource overview the city requested."

The cops booked the leasing manager?!

Garden variety Stranger indignation that is a lame and weak rationale for "abolition." So tell me, if the gloves come off completely in our empathy, what results from any lack of deterrent?


It is exiting to see the backlash finally arriving after 10 years of bullshit, lies, wasted resourced, and doubling down on stupid failed policies. Seattle used to be the model liberal city. Now it is a joke because we elected a bunch of delusional ideologues that couldn’t tell their head from their ass. Even us lifelong liberals are fed up. It is time to send the extremists and bums packing.


Rich honey...I don't know how to break through your wall of fantasy, but here's the reality:

It's 2021, not 1933. These are not latter-day Tom Joads fleeing the dust bowl seeking only work and dignity. For that matter, these are not latter-day Jean Valjeans stealing a loaf of bread to feed their family. These are transient addicts, and the only thing they're feeding is their drug habits.

On an aggregate national level, the number of 'homeless' (mostly vagrants) is going down, but it's increasing in the West Coast cities.

Why is that? Oh, thank you for asking: the vagrants don't come here to change their lives. They come here because they know that here, they won't have to. In Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the transient vagrant addict can eat their cake and have ours too.

Of course, you can sift the data and cherry pick your pathetic cases to support your pre-ordained conclusion.

At the end of the day, you are not a journalist. You are a muckraker of the lowest order; even William Hearst wouldn't stoop to hire you.

You would do well to take a moment to study the life of a real journalist who came from here: Edward R. Murrow. I know to a woke SJW like you he's just another Dead White Guy, but you are so pathetic you aren't worthy to lick the soles of his shoes.

Of course, this doesn't mean you can't change. You're a hack eking out pennies for a local blog. Are you willing to up your game and be a journalist worthy of the name, or are you going to spend your career chasing pennies publishing stuff like this that isn't even worthy of a high school newspaper?

Asking for a friend.


Enough already with the pity me pines because I'm poor. Being poor was never legal, ethical or moral justification for stealing. Never, period, full stop.

Does the author even bother to consider what a slippery slope one tries to climb when we devolve to this pathetic and depraved line of reasoning.

This entire slipper slog is just compassion babble. There is no real plan or solution proffered, just literally a "get out of jail free card". No consequences - No Responsibility.

If poverty is the reason for stealing, then I suggest the city create a plethora of jobs or civic projects which will employ and create or use the vast supply of half ass huts, mini housing, hotels etc to house them and feed them whilst they work. Hell use the jail cells and teach them how to cook...many have vast experience with the very nice gas grills they use in front of their tent cities.


So let's just lock them up longer? This isn't rocket science. These people aren't worth our time or effort. They're irredeemable and I'm tired of this city acting Jesus Christ. We will be so much better off.


@29. Our entire society is based on taking stuff from others because we decided we needed it more.

Your sign off should read “Fuck THE rich”. Especially since you disagree with people who do whatever they want no matter the consequences just because it suits them and they can get away with it.


@36: "The cops booked the leasing manager?!"

They should have booked the reporter for ambiguous grammar.


What is this bullshit, Rick Smith ? You polled prosecutors for their most keystone-cops-like cases and then present that as an argument against prosecuting misdemeanor 'crimes'. This reinforces Ann Davison's argument that there is a place for diversion programs in the system for cases like these. What she doesn't care about is an $8 bottle of wine or a block of cheese (ala NKT's anecdote). What will be prosecuted is recidivism, drunk driving , trashing public spaces, domestic violence and all the other bullshit that was slid under the rug during Holme's tenure. These are real crimes. Vote for change, Seattle. You're worth it.


The National Bureau of Economic Research study driving this insanity leaves out the fact that mountains of data show that the certainty of arrest is vastly the most effective deterrent of crime. So if non-prosecution leads to non-arrest, which it will, then yes, crime will absolutely increase.
It also leaves out the same critical component of common crime that this article leaves out: the victims. The owner of a small bodega or boutique doesn’t suffer much when a pack of smokes or bottle of cheap wine get’s stolen, but she suffers a lot when that theft ads up to a couple of grand a month. The pile of human shit found on a front porch traumatizes someone deeply, even endangering them. The heckling of outside diners by a man pissing his pants hurts both them and the restaurant.
So compassion. Every person who commits these crimes has a sad story to tell, but so does the victims of these crimes. Not everyone with a sad story commits crimes. And collectively we suffer as a city from these crimes. Common street crime is a tyranny of fear, and who does that help? Fascists. The place for compassion isn’t in the arrest or prosecution, but rather in the sentencing.
When KIRO reports these crimes, people don’t identify with the criminals. They identify almost always with the victims. That’s why Trumper Republicans are running ads saying that all Democrats are as stupidly extreme as Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and The Stranger. And outside of a few blocks of this city where nobody owns lawnmowers, it’s hard to counter that.
What astonishes me is that neither Rich Smith nor The Stranger nor Thomas-Kennedy nor Lorena González seem to realize or give a rat’s ass just how many people, good liberals most, own front lawns in this town. You know exactly what I mean. But if you don’t, you will in a couple of weeks.


@33 - Thank you for your comment...and your heart. You put into words far better than I could what I feel about all this. Oh, and Rich Smith is a feckless muckraker. Can't forget that!


This is so laughable. I expected it to be a bunch of non crimes that would make me rethink law enforcement. I mean, a penny! Guy was charged with stealing a PENNY!!! Next, I expected to hear about Jean Valjean being sentenced to 20 years hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving children. But each one I read, found myself nodding my head and saying, yeah, that guy should be arrested. Was this supposed to be satire? Or was it really supposed to make me think we should not be enforcing these laws?


No one has to steal food to survive in Seattle we have the millionaires club that hands out full meals for lunch and dinner here in Belltown daily food banks all over the city to name two programs plus food stamps. So the whole "crime of poverty" argument for stealing food is a false narrative. What we are seeing now is higher prices in Seattle stores due to loss from theft and that will only worsen if NTK becomes city attorney. We will see an influx of retail theft because criminals are not stupid why shoplift in Bellevue where you will get prosecuted when you can go to Seattle and get off with no punishment. Stores will close leaving food deserts, shoppers having to travel further to get essentials. The current lax prosecution of shoplifters and other misdemeanors has emboldened the offenders. Target closes an hour earlier downtown I bet theft has something to do with that. I am tired of shopping at Target or QFC and seeing some junkie walk out with a basket of goods. Which many of them turn around and sell right on the sidewalks. There are victims all of us who pay more for the goods so some tweaker can get high.


The most bizarre part of this is that they want to legalize ALL misdemeanors and the ONLY example they ever come up with is theft.

The thing is, theft is the ONLY crime you can ever use the "crime of poverty" or "crime of desperation" storyline for. Assault is the most common misdemeanor prosecuted in Seattle and there is NO justification for it. Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor that has NO justification. Threatening someone with a deadly weapon is a misdemeanor that has NO justification. Domestic violence is a misdemeanor that has NO justification. Drunk driving is a misdemeanor that has NO justification. Sexual harassment is a misdemeanor that has NO justification. Even trivial stuff like parking in a handicapped spot, that's not a crime of poverty, there's no justification for it.

That's why Rich and other shitheads like him keep writing these articles acting like petty theft is the only misdemeanor. So we should all vote for NTK to legalize petty theft. The reality is that legalizing all misdemeanors, his proposed solution, would also legalize the other 98% of crimes he doesn't want to talk about.

So Rich is straight-up lying to his readers (that's you). Because he thinks you're stupid enough to fall for it. Why does Rich want to legalize all misdemeanors? He probably doesn't, really, but he has to throw his support behind NTK if he wants to maintain his "cool progressive" street cred, so he has to come up with some sort of argument to justify supporting her, and this is the best he's got.


Yep. agreed! I remember back in Adams Morgan, DC, 1999 while I lived there. 30 unit walkup on Kalorama had a kid, son of one of the bar managers at Madam's Organ, doing some instant social justice and giving the local homeless guys keys to the building in winter to stay w]arm. They slept in the lobby, kind of like the "luxury condo" garage above. Rich, you nailed it. What harm could be done? They are just guilty of the crime of being poor and homeless, and Borger Management (they apt owner) and the local police agreed, doing nothing about it. Why put those poor guys in the legal system for sleeping in warmth?


Then Borger's property manager came in to check the basement unit by the laundry to see if it was ready to put up for rent again. Apparently getting some action is tough when you're homeless, so the two regulars of the homeless crew jumped her and raped her in the unit. Sodomized if the story we got was accurate...I can only confirm via the meeting Borger had with us when they suddenly cared about being a homeless hotel was "sexual assault, and she was doing well in the hospital". The deets were from one of the Borger people on the side.

But yeah, let's all laugh at those bougie bastards complaining about addicts sleeping in their garage while de-facto legalizing it. What could possibly go wrong?


Rich, why do you support wife beating? Doesn't sound that progressive and cool to me.


Rich, is it cool if I just punch you in the face? I'm pretty poor, so it should be cool right?


There is a larger story here than just the cherrypicking a half dozen cases from a database of 7,500 to extrapolate wild hyperbole about the role of misdemeanor prosecution in the cj system. (and worth noting, Jason Rantz could do exact same exercise in reverse, no more defensible on the left than the whacko right).

That story is, imho, the death of the Stranger as actual "journalism". They're just not even pretending anymore- and maybe that's at least intellectually honest.

Anyone who disagrees with them? "A conservative"; Any groups supporting Harrell or Nelson? "corporate; Ann Davison? "an extremist Trumper"; Nelson, Harrell, Davison, or Wilson? "the conservative candidates", stories they don't like? ignored (NTK tweets), attacking candidates for positions they endorsed? "yes on new youth and family justice center"

Putting aside that there's virtually no actual evidence to support them on any of that, it's just sloppy ideological blogging. As journalism, it might qualify for an opinion page, but that's it. It also reflects a rather stunning tone deafness to where the city electorate is. Recognizing that the electorate doesn't agree with the editorial board doesn't mean a single position needs to change. Failure to even understand how out of step with the electorate you've fallen means you abdicate the ability to move or persuade anyone.

In the main, it's just a sad march into irrelevance that was neither inevitable nor necessary.


Seattle! What a 💩🕳 it’s become over the last 20 years. Thank you one-party “demoncratic” Rule.