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In effect, Seattle is decriminalizing the use of hard drugs (nytimes.com)
252 points by mitchbob 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 475 comments



The reporters designation of "figured out" seems to stem more from the fact that the solution fits his own view than any actual real evidence. There is mention of the difficulties such lax policies has brought to the city, but they are waved away as being "growing pains" toward a new utopia.

I can't say, living here, that I feel that the problem is solved. I view the needles outside my apartment as evidence to the contrary - though I suppose I'm an ignoramus for thinking that.

Simply strolling through Pioneer Square or most parts of International District paints a significantly different picture. One can dine at a Chinese place on Jackson and look out their window and see junkies peddling stolen goods at the bus stop. The non-enforcement of so-called "petty crime" used to fund drug addictions is egregious and continues to undermine the already little sense of community there is in this city of transients.

What I'm trying to say is that while I appreciate the difference in approach from the traditional one, I do believe that there needs to be an honest discussion about the limits of rehabilitation. More research on the subject, as it relates to Seattle, shows that there are many, many, people who take advantage of these lax policies to abuse the system, hurting others who actually need help.


At least part of the cause of the visible squalor we see in Seattle is that the tough-on-crime crowd has consistently opposed safe injection, harm reduction, trash pickup, housing-first, and other evidence-based policies in favor of expensive, inhumane, and pointless measures like sweeps and incarceration. Any measure the city government takes that is not overtly cruel gets slammed as coddling the homeless or "attracting" homeless to the city, despite the fact that the data show this trope to be a fiction.


I'm anti-incarceration for moral reasons, but it's not clear to me that there is a definitive consensus that incarceration does not work. See: https://www.nber.org/digest/jan02/w8489.html

> "Annual expenditures of approximately $10 billion on drug incarceration almost pay for themselves through reductions in health care costs and lost productivity attributable to illegal drug use, even ignoring any crime reductions associated with such incarceration."

(The above is from a study conducted by a prominent U Chicago economist and another economist who is now at Princeton.)

It’s really very complicated. One of the macro trends over the last few decades is a massive increase in crime from the late 1960s to the mid 1990s, then a decrease since then. Incarceration started increasing in the 1970s and 1980s as a response to that increase in crime. When crime started coming down in the 1990s, incarceration started coming down about ten years behind that in the 2000s.

Nobody really knows why crime started dropping in the 1990s. Some people think that the reduction is attributable to the banning of leaded gasoline. Maybe. But I don’t think studied have ruled out the notion that the reduction is attributable to putting a large number of people in prison. See: https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdf/10.1257/089533004773563485

> Crime fell sharply and unexpectedly in the 1990s. Four factors appear to explain the drop in crime: increased incarceration, more police, the decline of crack and legalized abortion.

It’s not an area where you can point to a definitive consensus, and everyone interprets the data to fit their own political views.


I'm anti-incarceration for moral reasons

There is also a middle ground, where you can think that drugs should generally be legalized, but incarcerating people for non-drug crimes is a good idea. The problem isn't really people doing drugs. It's people breaking into cars, damaging property left in public, trespassing, assaulting other people, leaving big public piles of trash, things that fall into the "harming other people" category of crime.


At the end of the day though, the people breaking into cars are usually doing so because they have no other reasonable means to sustain themselves, or they are compelled to do so because of drug addiction. The long-term _solution_, is to remove these obstacles.

In other words, middle-class employed people who are safe in their environment don't really commit crimes - why would they? The best way to solve crime In General is to make more people like that.

Now granted, there are some people that would _still_ commit crimes even though they don't need to - this is the place where punitive solutions are appropriate, to make it not worth their while.


If economics were the main driver, you'd see a strong correlation between crime rates and the economy. But by and large you do not: http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/LevittUndersta....

> Based on these estimates, the observed 2 percentage point decline in the U.S unemployment rate between 1991 and 2001 can explain an estimated 2 percent decline in property crime (out of an observed drop of almost 30 percent), but no change in violent crime or homicide. The sharp increases in crime in the 1960s—a decade of strong economic growth—further corroborate the weak link between macroeconomics and crime.

Violent crime rates started trending up in the 1960s, more than doubling by 1971: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/U0YlrTTCYi550Z4py1MNVenNt-...

Meanwhile, the economy was quite strong until 1969, with unemployment below 4%: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33069.pdf (p. 5). Poverty rates went down about 40% from 1960-1970, and then were stable until about 1980. Over that same period, violent crime tripled. From 1982 to 1990, poverty went down by 15% and unemployment dropped in half, but violent crime increased 36% to historical peaks.


I'm not terribly surprised macro economic number don't show a strong correlation to crime. We're already talking about a group on the margins generally when we're looking at small property crimes and top line numbers like unemployment don't capture people who aren't even looking for work anymore (eg drug addicts).


Yeah Economics has a huge problem with the Fruit Basket Fallacy.


Going to need a definition on that, the first result on google for 'fruit basket fallacy' is literally this comment.


I made it up. Economist have a big problem with running statistical analysis on unsorted population data. Hence trying to run regressions on fruit baskets.


Drugs get sold for huge markups due to prohibition. A heroin user spending $200 or more a day is, in reality, only using $4 or $5 a day worth in production cost. Even with a huge tax, I'd be $15 or whatever.


But we’re basically talking about non-violent crimes like theft and drug trafficking where in your own statements the correlation exists.

I wouldn’t expect homicide to meaningfully drop in an economic boom since the reasons for murder are so varied.


It exists but is very weak, meaning it’s not the primary driving force.


> a decade of strong economic growth

This seems impossible to solve without considering which people were actually experiencing this growth.


Hence the statistics I presented below that, showing that the poverty rate went down dramatically over that period.


You did - I should add that I didn't consider their breakdown sufficient enough:

> In 2013, for example, the average poverty threshold for an individual living alone was $11,888; for a two-person family, $15,142; and for a family of four, $23,834.7

I wasn't alive in 1969, but for 2013, that threshold is quite low - it may make sense for poverty, but it is not a net wide enough to catch a significant portion of (relatively) poor people whose addictions have grown to far outweigh their paychecks.


Exactly! I'm not interested in castigating people for shooting up heroin, but I'm really not OK with them littering needles in our parks and sidewalks.


I love the image of a cop stopping someone who just shot up heroine with their arms crossed being like “well... are you going throw that away? hmmm” and gesturing with their eyes to the trash can.

A little silly but also nice.


I'll definitely admin that I'm interpreting the data to fit their own political/moral views but the conclusion "10 billion on drug incarceration almost pay for themselves through reductions in health care costs and lost productivity" seems that economically the difference in incarcerating addicts and providing them healthcare is negligible.

If the economic difference is negligible then what reason is there for incarceration over providing healthcare? Crime did drop in the 90s but there's also the reality that those with criminal records are predisposed towards recidivism, a complicated issue on its own, but it seems that incarceration leads itself to staying criminal while healthcare at least has less direct links to criminal recidivism.


The issue is that while they are trying to break the addiction they often relapse and because drugs are expensive and also not conducive to holding a job there is a non-negligible percent of people that would continue to break into cars and steal things to pay for their habits. If they aren't hurting anyone ok fine let them go the rehab route first, but if they demonstrate they are a danger to society then they need to be separated until they cure their addiction. I think we should also reduce the sentencing for drug crimes as often they are overly punative.


I’m extremely against confinement as a punishment but I don’t think this would be unreasonable so long as it was strictly limited to the time needed to detox and you could say with a clear conscience that it was for the addicts benefit. Like they have to leave with an escort but they can hit up Mcdonalds and Yankee candle for their room.


Yea I think the best way is to first heavily restrict their freedom until they normalize and then have an incentives-based system that rewards positive behavior and actions with more freedoms until they can return to a normal life. Unfortunately, drug addiction is always the product of something deeper that's causing self-medication. Personally, I think a lot of addiction is due to a lack of connection with others and a lack of purpose for being. I like the concept of community service in the form of actually interacting with other members of the community instead of picking up trash on the side of the freeway for example.


This feel ill informed. First off, to an addict, nothing is a better positive rewarder than drugs. Secondly, forcing someone to "kick" never works and in fact leads to people trying to use the same amount and overdosing.

I do think mental health services are whats needed.


I think the solution is transforming a segment of incarceration into medical help, or expanding medical conservatorship.

If you smell like crap and can't sustain a life because of drug addictions or mental illness, and your behavior causes problems for society, you need to be helped, and maybe against your will.

The vast majority of homeless are actually not visible and look like and act like normal people. They often get out of being homeless in a few years. It's the chronic homeless who need help, might always need help, that ruin the public space for everyone else.


Respectfully disagree. The invisible homeless need the most help because they could really benefit and return to society for not that much cost. The visible homeless are mostly addicts and mentally ill that are too far gone to be anything more than contained.


They often already get help, and are the segment that help actually helps them. But it's the visibile chronic criminal homeless w/ drug and mental illness problems that make a city worse for everyone, including the invisible homeless.


Agreed, in Seattle some of the activist groups actually actively make the chronic homeless more visible to increase funding to the other group. It’s a very effective strategy actually.


Nobody really knows why crime started dropping in the 1990s. Some people think that the reduction is attributable to the banning of leaded gasoline. Maybe. But I don’t think studied have ruled out the notion that the reduction is attributable to putting a large number of people in prison.

One study shows the decrease in crime was caused by an increase in abortions.

http://freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-sh...

Before everyone starts vilifying the person conducting the study. He said on the podcast that he does not think that his study should influence public policy and that the answer was not to try to convince people to have abortions but to spend more money on children and family services and criminal justice reform that keeps families from being separated because of minor crimes.


Freakonomics makes a case the drop in crime is directly correlated with the passing of Roe VS Wade and the legalization of abortion. This led to the 18 year later drop in unwanted male children now adults. Very interesting read on a very explosive topic :)


His argument has been widely debunked, and subsequent followup found that Leavitt had a huge data error that way overstated his conclusion.

I personally find the lead/crime argument to be much more convincing


"Widely debunked" is factually inaccurate. It has not been debunked at all. It is not popular and leads to a lot of emotional responses, and there was one particular mechnical error in a single table in the original paper (Foote and Goetz); it has been addressed by the authors and did not materially affect the basic analysis or high-level conclusion.

An independent study on the lead/crime hypothesis (impact of childhood lead exposure on criminality) came to a similar conclusion.[0] (Reyes is interviewed in the podcast linked below.) Finally, they recently published a 15-years on follow-up study, which showed continued support for the hypothesis.[1]

You can read a transcript of their most recent podcast on the subject here[2], or just go direct to the source material.

[0]: https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/get_the_lead_o...

[1]: https://bfi.uchicago.edu/wp-content/uploads/BFI_WP_201975.pd...

[2]: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/abortion/


“Widely debunked” is too strong. They’ve released a new study where they double down on that conclusion: https://journalistsresource.org/studies/economics/abortion-c...


It is a good chapter to read to see their methodology even if you don't agree with the results. For example, comparing stricter/easier gun laws and prison times in different cities and not finding a correlation to the drop in violence since it was across the board.


Oh I've read it and am familiar with their argument, I just disagree. I don't think analyzing gun laws on a city by city basis makes a lot of sense, they're small, in high demand apparently, and easily smuggled from a more permissive locale.

The abortion argument is just a pathway to IQ/some people are genetically more predisposed to being dumb & violent, etc. It's just a step on the way there. I hardly think I have to spell out what's the next step on the road after that. Open white supremacists like Steve Sailer vocally support the abortion argument, for instance


" a pathway to IQ/some people are genetically " How did you come ot that conclusion? Much simpler option is on the table: parents mostly abort kkids when they know they don;t want them or can;t take care of them. Kids that are wanted, are much more likely to be properly brought up and not become criminals.


> Kids that are wanted, are much more likely to be properly brought up and not become criminals.

Adopted children (in the US) are much more prone to various failures, like becoming criminals, than are the biological children of their adoptive parents.

It seems unlikely that this is due to the adopted children being unwanted.


Only if you're biased towards accepting those kinds of arguments already. There are social explanations for the effect that, in my opinion, both better explain it and don't suffer from the slightest appearance of racism.


An argument (in this sense) is a particular way of arriving at a conclusion. There could be different arguments for the same conclusion. This Freakonomics abortion thing seems to me an explanation. The 'conclusion' here is the reality of lower-than-expected crime rates - you don't argue for that; you try to explain it.

Your second paragraph is the most naked slippery-slope appeal to fear I've seen. Just repeating "just a pathway", "just a step" doesn't make it so. If the explanation is true, it's true. That some racist believes something or not doesn't affect its truth or falsity. I get a kind of claustrophobic communist-era vibe from your comment - that there is no truth, no reality, outside what the powers-that-be declare to be true. (I guess we call it 'political correctness' - there's no 'correct', only 'politically correct'.)


> Oh I've read it and am familiar with their argument

You do not seem to be familiar with the their conclusions and sentiments, no.

> The abortion argument is just a pathway to IQ/some people are genetically more predisposed to being dumb & violent, etc. It's just a step on the way there. I hardly think I have to spell out what's the next step on the road after that. Open white supremacists like Steve Sailer vocally support the abortion argument, for instance

Not even close.

> LEVITT: I actually think that our paper makes really clear why this has nothing to do with eugenics. ... what our data suggests is that women are pretty good at choosing when they can bring kids in the world, who they can provide good environments for, okay? The mechanism by which any effects on crime have to be happening here are the women making good choices. And that’s such a fundamental difference — between women making good choices and eugenics, which is about the state, say, or some other entity forcing choices upon people, almost couldn’t be more different.

> ...

> What did Donohue mean by “unwantedness”? He was referring to the expansive social-sciences literature which showed that children born to parents who didn’t truly want that child, or weren’t ready for that child, these children were more likely to have worse outcomes as they grew up — health and education outcomes. But also, these so-called “unwanted” kids would ultimately be more likely to engage in criminal behaviors.

> ...

> The mechanism was pretty simple: unwanted children were more likely than average to engage in crime as they got older; but an unwanted child who was never born would never have the opportunity to enter his criminal prime, 15 or 20 years later. Donohue and Levitt created a tidy syllogism: unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; therefore, abortion led to lower crime.

> DONOHUE: ... presumably the greatest thing that could happen in this domain is if you would eliminate unwanted pregnancies in the first place. But American policy has not been nearly as effective in achieving that goal.

> A country like the Netherlands, which has really tried to reduce unwanted pregnancies, has probably had the right approach in dealing with the issues that our research at least raised. So they have much, much lower rates of abortion even though abortion is completely legal in the Netherlands. But they want to stop the unwanted pregnancies on the front end, and I think almost everyone should be able to agree that that is the preferable way to focus policy if one can.

> ...

> LEVITT: On the other hand, I don’t think anyone who is sensible should use our hypothesis to change their mind about how they feel about legalized abortion. So it really isn’t very [abortion] policy-relevant. If you’re pro-life and you believe that the fetus is equivalent in moral value to a person, well then, the tradeoff is awful.

> ...

> LEVITT: So there are two policy domains for which this research is important. ... the second [policy domain] really does relate to the idea that if unwantedness is such a powerful influencer on people’s lives, then we should try to do things to make sure that children are wanted. You could at least begin to think about how you would create a world in which kids grow up more loved and more appreciated and with brighter futures. And you know, is that better early education? Is that, you know, permits for parents? Or training for parents? Or, you know, minimum incomes? Who knows what the answer really would be. But there’s a whole set of topics I think which are not even on the table.


I just skimmed the chapter again to refresh my memory. It has a clear 'THOSE people [lower income, lower IQ] having abortions reduced the crime rate' angle. I'm sure they may have said something different after the fact, to not appear pro-eugenics (they likely didn't know how popular their book would be when they were writing it!). I invite anyone who disagrees to simply read the source material themselves.

Anyways, seeing as not only do social scientists widely disagree with their hypothesis, but other researchers found flaws in their data sets that Leavitt & Donohue were forced to acknowledge & correct for- it seems irrelevant?


What’s the lead/crime argument?



IIRC, that was just one of the potential factors. Another was the phasing out of lead gasoline. The arc of crime is fascinating though. I was in high school during t.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States


> "Annual expenditures of approximately $10 billion on drug incarceration almost pay for themselves through reductions in health care costs and lost productivity attributable to illegal drug use

I'm not sure I understand that. Surely people in prison are even less productive? Or is this counting the massively underpaid prison labour that sometimes happens in the US?


You're right, but I think they meant they spent that much less on hospital/public health spending.

A huge amount of drug users are very productive and go to work every day, but when they get caught up in the legal system they may lose their job.


Hey - good point! What does that even mean?

I think, from reading that abstract, that they’re claiming it causes drug prices to rise and lower the overall rate of drug use. If they don’t mean that, then I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.


Having both the serious possibility of prosecution while offering the alternative of entering a drug treatment facility and emerging with a cleared history is a good compromise. People who committed petty crimes due to addiction and were compelled by the state of Rhode Island to go through such a program say that it saved their life.

Intervention works and it can be done humanely.


I had a conversation with someone the other day who made many of the same arguments as you. I agreed with some of it--namely that around safe injection, harm reduction, methadone (et al) clinics, etc.--but I had a hard time stomaching the idea that "housing first" was a good idea, in that if you take a drug addict and put them in a home, they're still a drug addict who can't contribute meaningfully to society.

Would you mind pointing to some of those studies/evidence so I can be a little more informed about the whole thing?

EDIT: Found one further down, but would love to see any others you have: https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.94.4...


On the flip side, I have a hard time imagining how a homeless drug addict will be able to kick drugs while on the street and then somehow find a house and then become a 'meaningful' member of society without support. They basically have two problems: no house and a drug addiction. Fixing the 'no house' problem without tying it to drug addiction is a step towards normalcy.


Offering a choice of jail time or compulsory residence in drug treatment facility seems like a good compromise


I don't like the framing of this premise that you need to "contribute to society" in order to not be exposed to the elements and have a safe place to retreat. Do people working on ads contribute to society? What about middle managers of middle managers? What about the people on golf courses that basically spend money to make other people do shit for them?

Furthermore, we cannot dehumanize our fellow humans even if they use drugs. The result of such framing is vicious savagery as is seen in America, the Philippines, and other places around the world.


You know, I actually paused after those words because I was afraid of a response like this, but I didn't rephrase because I just figured "they'll get what I mean".

In the context of my response, I really just meant it as shorthand for "not doing any of the negative stuff that Seattleites deal with on an everyday basis". Lots of homeless people are already doing that--namely, not putting the general public at risk with violence or needles sitting around--but many of the ones visible to us are making the city worse off.

So again, my OP should really be reframed as: "if you take a dangerous drug addict and put them in a house, they're still a dangerous drug addict".

And I do implicitly mean there that if you take a non-dangerous, knocked-off-their-feet homeless person and put them in a house, you now have a housed person, and that's a very positive thing :)


Yes, nobody says that just putting people into housing will magically fix them. That's why there's 30 other things on the list. Someone in housing is more likely to begin on their road to recovery than someone who has to live on the streets and have their stuff stolen all the time.


I think it's pretty obvious he didn't mean "contribute to society" in the metaphorical sense, but in the idiom which typically means "hold a job".


See my response above, I really didn't mean either of those things, it was just a lazy end to the sentence.


How could you possibly battle drug addiction or mental illness while sleeping on concrete exposed to elements and crime? It's constant stress that makes these issues worse, not better, every single day you live on the street.


> At least part of the cause of the visible squalor we see in Seattle is that the tough-on-crime crowd has consistently opposed safe injection, harm reduction, trash pickup, housing-first, and other evidence-based policies in favor of expensive, inhumane, and pointless measures like sweeps and incarceration. Any measure the city government takes that is not overtly cruel gets slammed as coddling the homeless or "attracting" homeless to the city, despite the fact that the data show this trope to be a fiction.

What data are you referring to? Governments in the Seattle area manage to spend over a billion dollars each year on the homeless problem. With about 10,000 people, that’s about $100,000 per person per year (both numbers are 2017). And they only house about 50%, which means $200,000 per person housed in temporary or permanent housing.

Somehow New York City houses 80% of a larger homeless population (60,000) for around $50,000 per person. They are three times more effective with their money.

People should be yelling. The data does suggest that policies on the west coast are expensive and ineffective. They aren’t good for anyone. I think the author of this post [1] makes greats points about the problems of unlimited compassion. Looking at the numbers really changes how I feel about the tent city down the street from me.

[1] https://www.city-journal.org/seattle-homelessness


“some would prefer to see the police cart drug users off to jail to get them out of the way” (article)

It seems like creating housing projects for these people would be cheaper and more beneficial to society than increasing the prison population. I’d like to see something like dorms with shared restrooms, cafeterias, and such facilities. It’d create work and demand locally while keeping the streets clean.


I am anti housing projects. To me, creating a housing projects is like sweeping the problem under the rug. It concentrates poverty and crime into the area in/around the projects.


A) ghettoization in the form you describe is a zoning problem. Mixed-rate zoning is a thing, even in major cities in the US, and there's no reason social housing needs to be geographically isolated from market rate housing. As you point out, that's really unhealthy. I submit that the US has just implemented public housing extremely poorly, especially on the federal level, and Section 8 vouchers are going to be a much larger bill to pay to the American taxpayer than simply building public housing to begin with.

B) From a healthcare perspective, both housing and rehabilitation are necessary for the person to be able to function stably. I would argue that this type of housing as well as drug decriminalization is necessary to treat the underlying poverty (and resulting crime).

EDIT: wording.


This is why nothing gets done.

- Dealing with petty crime that makes everyone miserable is insensitive to the homeless/addicts/etc who are stealing people's stuff and selling it.

- We should send people to provide garbage pickup to people occupying spaces that don't belong to them, but make sure that they aren't disturbed.

- We should be housing first, but not with housing projects.

What would you suggest be done?


Obviously, we need to make sure NO ONE has any kind of quality of life. Large US cities should keep being shit shows and keep getting worse for everyone until 100% of people, no matter their socioeconomic situation, can live like kings.


I can’t tell what you are communicating.


Seattle spreads the housing projects around the city. In fact they just opened one in the South Lake Union area last year (just behind the Neptune apartments). They replaced a parking lot with something like 10-15 sheds for housing. They are in the 100-150 sq ft range, have electricity and a shared bathroom(s). I'm a touch fuzzy on the particulars because they also erect a very tall privacy fence around the whole thing, which feels like a good idea if for no other reason than a touch of privacy for its residents.


Not really they are still mostly concentrated in pockets because developers are allowed to buy out of building subsidized housing units


I’m glad to learn some places are doing this!


I don’t think anyone wants the projects of the 50-70s. See the navigation centers in sf. It works.


As long as it is outside city limits, but operated as a city extension, in something like a rural environment, I think this is a great idea.


Why is removing this from the city central to your support?


To effectively clean up the city. You can’t have tent encampments in cities, which leads to refuse build up, which brings the rats, which spread typhoid. Yes, this is a fact, and yes this is right now a current problem facing Los Angeles. If resources can be distributed outside city limits which are paid for by city taxpayers, city residents can see a return on their taxes with cleaner, safer neighborhoods. For those who are not drug addicts or bums, but need help to get back on their feet, those are the individuals who should be offered beds and resources in the city.


Probably because the neighboring cities aren’t doing their fair share. Need to spread the pain to all the local cities and counties


Tough on crimes folks oppose trash pick-up?

Really?


Yep, the argument I've heard is that it legitimizes encampments. Additionally I suspect people are outraged by the notion that homeless people could get trash pickup for free from the city when housed people have to pay for theirs - even though it would be a lot cheaper than sweeps.


I think it’s more of a liability problem. Once the city starts garbage cleaning the city becomes exposed to liability from the encampment because it can be argued that its sanctioned now.


I imagine a conversation like:

Q: What should we do about this homeless encampment? The options are:

1. Provide it with free trash pickup so that it's a slightly nicer place to live and to be around

2. Shut it down, remove the tents as well as the trash, make the inhabitants move elsewhere

And then I would expect the "tough on crimes" crowd would prefer option #2 to option #1.


That makes more sense.

I read it as “opposed to trash pick-up in general” and then thought “who the hell would be opposed to that?”


The King County Needle Exchange is why there's needles absolutely everywhere. Safe injection won, and now you can't walk anywhere barefoot.


Where were you walking barefoot before that you no longer can?


Needle exchange isn't safe injection btw


What data are you talking about? Because there sure is a strong correlation between drug use and homelessness. While I think it's insane to punish people for ingesting substances that might harm them, I still don't think we should just look the other way and silently condone its use when it's actively destroying people's lives.


There are people who are mentally ill, addicted to drugs, and/or abused. The streets are no place to heal these wounds, they are a place for them to fester. Modern asylums and rehab centers should be built, along with shelter space with counseling and medical services.

Leaving people to rot on the street for even an instant longer is abhorrently inhumane, and the local government officials in charge of our west coast cities should just resign, since they so clearly lack any empathy or rational thinking.


Who is this "crowd". Seattle politics has been absolutely dominated by people who support all these things.

Last week I saw 2 people shooting up on the brand new deck of pike place market, essentially the biggest tourist attraction in Seattle.

Are you honestly claiming that if only they had a safe injection site and some housing that allowed drug use that that wouldn't happen?

Drug addicts don't care about any of that stuff, they want to get it in their veins asap, and now that its effectively legal they can do this 24/7.


> "attracting" homeless to the city, despite the fact that the data show this trope to be a fiction.

This is incorrect and I think it's constructive to address it. People talk about numbers, but it's mostly just whatever justifies their bias. Where you draw a line AND when matters when talking about this, so I believe somewhere just under 40% are from outside Seattle. I measure that if you're not from King County (for at least 1 year) before you lost your home, you've moved to it (re: http://allhomekc.org/king-county-point-in-time-pit-count/). Either way, homeless people do not move away to cheaper locales, but are drawn toward the city center. This is primarily due to existing support networks, convenient mobility, drug availability, tolerance, and available disposable wealth. Seattle is not special in this regard, as this behavior is see in many metropolitan centers around the world. Does it matter? No. Where people come from isn't the issue as you can't really control for the conditions...what is WA gonna do, prevent global warming from sending climate refugees up the coast? Good luck Inslee.

I have observed how various cities have approached handling the homeless. I spent 5 years in Santa Cruz, CA and a decade in Santa Ana, CA where these same "issues" had been handled differently from Seattle. I'm not an expert, but I have an opinion, and I recognize that's all it is.

You know who doesn't have a homeless problem? Irvine, CA. If you have a car with a bunch of caked mud on it and some dents or a blown out window, you get status-profiled (they don't admit to it, and it's not racial, but it's demonstrable) and pulled over. The Irvine Company (a family who owns most of Irvine) leverages or ships undesirables from the city and it stays that way (mostly in Costa Mesa, Laguna, etc) same as Santa Cruz did in the 90s where they would drop repeat offenders on a train to Santa Clara. Luckily(?) when a few people ended up freezing to death in their cars and the streets (over a few winters) in Santa Cruz, it came out as an official public safety policy. Draconian measures work to a degree, it seems, but mostly moving people CONSISTENTLY works.

Mixing unrestricted support systems into metropolitan areas has been applied for over half a century. It sifts those who can be helped, out until you have those who cannot or will not be helped. As unpopular as it seems, I think that a city/county being allowed to export people to unincorporated areas if they break a city/county law and have no residence and aren't able to complete a work program, would solve homelessness in a more humane manner. If you don't want to participate in society, homestead the land or run your way back and start over. Either way, it doesn't fill more jail cells. Yes people may die, just as people die now, but without putting residents at risk.


Wars can also be ended by surrender, which Vancouver BC did. I understand Seattle’s approach has been similar: Grant de facto immunity to homeless people committing petty crime, stop all police enforcement of drug laws, and shame everyone who dares to complain.


Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver are remarkably similar in their problems and approaches to solutions. It really feels like a PNW/BC cultural thing.


And it's all following in the footsteps of SF. Lets make our cities open-air asylums!


The city’s approach is a shameful failure


That's happening all over. Statistics-based policing helps here. When you don't arrest people, your crime rate doesn't go up.


except governance is not a war, and unlike in a war you are concerned with well-being of your citizen and are not allowed to kill them... So really, just an empty soundbyte


> and shame everyone who dares to complain.

And then watch at they turn on you by quietly voting for your opponents in greater and greater numbers as the problem worsens.


... or fleeing to suburbs...


That's a big problem for those of us still here that would prefer enforcement; our fellow-minded voters have (probably rightly) chosen defect and left the city, rather than stay to vote for change. Suburb living also has twice the greenhouse gas impact as well.


I think the latest city council election is going to show that Seattle sadly wants more of the same problems and people like us are unwelcome


I don't know, Sawant got way less than was expected in the primaries (36.7% [1]), and I think a lot of folks are in the Sawant or anti-Sawant camp whereby all on the non-Sawant primary votes will consolidate to Orion.

Or people blew off the primaries sure that she'd take the general. ️

[1] https://ballotpedia.org/City_elections_in_Seattle,_Washingto...


She actually did pretty well considering many thought she would get primaried out. All the other incumbents look pretty secure as well


At least Mike O'Brien is out. His replacement may end up being more of the same, but at least it's some kind of change.


Those of us still here that prefer empathy would rather you follow your 'fellow-minded' folks and just leave.

Seattle's had this tension between the left and the liberals for a century. Traditionally you lived on the outskirts. You're welcome to go back if the city offends your sensibilities.


Does there need to be a line drawn here? I don’t think there is a contradiction between empathy and enforcement. For example, I would really like an end to the bike and package theft and I think it is reasonable to enforce laws against it. Do you disagree?


In a perfect world, no.

In the world we live in, yes I disagree. Our criminal justice system further entrenches these problems. Before you claim that these petty crimes don't apply, the majority of folks in jail and prison are there on probation/parole violations, and these petty crimes are all jailable/revokable offenses for folks on paper.

In America, we put the already marginalized in jail and prison which only further entrenches their marginalization. Empathy means breaking that cycle.

Fear-based rhetoric around crime is not empathy. In fact, it's the exact opposite. And it's rampant in this thread.


>the majority of folks in jail and prison are there on probation/parole violations

This is a funny way of saying they're back in prison for more serious original crimes after failing to rehabilitate during the second chance they were already given in the form of probation/parole.

Repeatedly letting criminals free to walk the streets and commit more crimes is not empathy, it is folly. Empathy is protecting the neighborhoods which aren't rich enough to be insulated from these bad actors.


> Repeatedly letting criminals free to walk the streets

That's a funny way of implying that everyone that the justice system imprisons are criminals in a world where we imprison 22% of the global incarcerated population despite accounting for 4% of the global total population[1].

Fear-based rhetoric around crime and the people who commit crimes* is not empathy.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_incarceration_ra...


My empathy is reserved for victims. I don't see how siding with antisocial actors and taking a permissive stance on crime is supposed to improve society. I literally can't understand the mindset of such a belief other by applying hipster contrarianism to morality.


My empathy is reserved for victims of the prison industrial complex (that includes your concept of victims, btw). I do see how your sort of hardline dehumanization of undesirables...sorry, 'tough on crime'...approach in the latter half of the 20th century has resulted in many of the problems being discussed in this thread.

I'm a felon that committed a crime and violated my probation a year after my original sentencing (I've since discharged my sentence). My crime was almost killing my passengers and myself in a drunken single-vehicle collision when I was 19. My violation was being a drunk passenger on my 21st birthday, after the designated driver was pulled over for simple lane violations (right/left turns into far lanes). They were let go with a warning, and I was taken to jail. If I didn't come from the privileged background I do, I could very well still be in prison today.

I'm a contrarian hipster, don't get me wrong, but I come by this empathy honestly. I empathize with your fear too, but I'm telling you to get over it because it only makes the problems you fear worse.


[flagged]


That was 10 years ago but by all means prove my point about empathy.


"Empathy" is unfortunately becoming code word for "caring to a specific group of people but not others". It's almost never used for "the ability to understand and care about the feelings of people in general".

The people who aren't living in the street but are victims of these petty crimes or have their own quality of life drastically reduced because of all this still matter. And I don't think the solution is to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator. Especially since even the reasonably well off (dare I say, what's left of the "middle class") frequently has it worse in the US than random people do in other first world countries.


Is it empathy that leaves the mentally unwell and drug addicted to rot in the street, harass and endanger passersby, and commit petty crimes with impunity?


Time and time again, empathy leads to bad counterproductive policies with good intentions.

Compassion is a much better path.


I didn't think empathy had much to do with the tough on crime policies that are bearing this fruit today, or the dehumanizing rhetoric rampant in this thread that justifies doubling down on those failed policies.

Time and time again, fear leads to bad counterproductive policies with debateably good intentions.

I'm ignoring the meaningless/unspoken distinction between compassion and empathy in your comment.


re: compassion vs empathy

google is your friend here since you don't know the difference:

https://www.google.com/search?q=compassion+vs+empathy


Isn't a liberal left sided? I'm confused by your statement.


Though it's changed recently (and even more recently is swinging back to historical usage), historically the word liberals referred to folks that are generally corporate/free-trade friendly (Reagan famously claimed something to the effect of, 'I'm a liberal, an 18th century liberal'). They also pay lip service to personal freedoms, but that tends to be through the lens of white men being the only people deserving of those, and they're generally against freedom of migration. Or rather that they care about free-trade more than free-migration because it advantages them more, despite the societal benefits of one relying on the other.

In Seattle, the leftists are the AnSyn folks at the unsanctioned May Day celebration, or the WTO protesters two decades back. Further back, they're the folks organizing the general strike[1]. The liberals are the folks that put their No Re-zoning sign next to their BLM sign in the window of their Ballard home. Or more charitably, the folks that see Gates and Bezos as shining examples of what our city is capable of.

In case you need it in song form, this is a song written by a leftist[2].

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_General_Strike

[2]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nFvhhCulaw


Gonna be honest thinking of doing just that. All the neighboring cities use Seattle as a dumping ground for addicts so they are nice and clean.


I heard from a lot of folks in Spokane who moved out because of the city's increasingly boggling policies. They were often quite vocal about the fact that they moved and their reasons for moving; they seemed to care for their old home, but simply could not live there any longer.


Vancouver's homeless have largely fled to the suburbs too! (Maple Ridge, mostly.) I guess the cost of living is so high here that even those who aren't paying rent still can't afford it.


Not to worry: WA senator Manka Dhingra has been promising to bring injection sites to the suburbs as well.


People are downvoting this, but the person has a point. That's exactly how Trump got elected (followed by millions of people wondering how the hell it could happen).

Shame everyone who disagrees with you, cancel them, ban them on your online forums, and then it's like they don't exist. You win! Except they can still vote, and you're no longer in a situation where you can influence them.


That's pretty much Santa Cruz California and it hasn't happened yet.


Why don't you offer an alternative solution then? Throwing the homeless people in jail is ineffective and immoral.

If your solution is drug treatment programs, great, but then don't argue against raising taxes to pay for them.


Seattle loves to pass new taxes that are "supposed" to go towards certain things (and do for a year or two), but then end up in a general fund. Just like the tobacco tax, the alcohol tax and the marijuana tax. These were all supposed to go towards roads and schools, at one point and, yet didn't.


Is there even a legal structure allowing a government to pass a tax with a particular outflow, in a way that prevents said government from later deciding to redirect the tax's revenue to a different outflow? Like how a trust works for private citizens, but at an organizational level?


You can earmark tax dollars for particular spending, but Seattle has a habit of only doing said earmarks for 2 to 3 years before going into the general fund. I'm not sure if you can make those earmarks indefinite, to be honest.


We need low cost low security jails for people who commit property crimes. Basically just wall off a few square miles and throw them in there left to their own devices.


Maybe you can try using your giant 'logical' brain to postulate why that isn't a good idea?

You're suggesting making a fucking ghetto for homeless people? Are you serious?

This thread has confirmed my suspicion that HN cares way more about money and their material interests than any sense of morality or ethics.


Many prisons in central and South America are run like this: the prisoners are thrown into a contained environment without guards otherwise, the prisoners themselves (usually visit a gangs) organize the prison economy and otherwise keep the peace (bar for some occasional riots).


This is basically the origin of Australia.


That’s not good because it gives the leaders a quality of life that they shouldn’t be able to enjoy.


Wow. That's your criticism? That they leaders aren't suffering enough? You and I have very different ideas about what incarceration is for.


Arizona's attempt at this worked poorly: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/aug/21/arizona-phoen...


It's interesting people always point to Portugal to support the idea that decriminalization is the way to address substance abuse. But compare Sweden, which has similar levels of drug dependency to Portugal, but takes a "zero tolerance" approach to drug use: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_Sweden. While Sweden does include treatment as part of its drug policy, that is a complement to, not replacement for, strict law enforcement.

(Swedes are very anti-drug. While a narrow majority of even Republicans in the US support legalization of cannabis, 83% of Swedes support keeping it illegal: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sweden-cannabis/in-anti-d...)


> According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), in 2005, the rate of drug-related deaths per capita in Sweden was more than twice that of the Netherlands and there were more persons addicted to severe narcotics ("heavy drugs") than in other countries

It doesn't seem to be working that well, does it?


Is drug related death really the right stat to use? Seems like it doesn’t tell the whole story.


Considering the low rate of drug usage in Sweden amongst the general population it seems to tell a sorry story about Swedish drug policy...


Whenever someone points out Portugal and you talk to them you find that they think just decriminalization turned Portugal into a beautiful utopia.

In practice decriminalization was 20% of the action. The important 80% was investing heavily in social workers, public health, and temporary housing so that people on drugs could receive treatment.

What other countries fail to appreciate is that people in these conditions are almost always self-medicating or escaping something. So great, you don't put them in jail, but they continue living in a vicious addictive hell with no hope for a better future or of ever regaining their lives. That's not exactly compassionate is it?

The metric to track can't be: "didn't die" or "didn't incarcerate", it should be "regained their life" and "broke their addiction".


So they throw people in jail and end up having the same outcomes as Portugal that doesn't?

Gee, you are making it very difficult to choose which policy I prefer!


I seriously doubt the Swedes 'throw people in jail'. Their social policy in general is very much the other way. Their prison sentances will be 10-30% as long as US ones for comparable offences.

In terms of drugs Norway and Sweden have traditionally not had much drugs - mainly because they are a long way from anywhere.


Portugal is such a strange example to point at. Yes, the heroin use fell after the decriminalization, but it also fell in other countries at the same time. Use of other drugs in Portugal after decriminalization actually rose.


I see people shooting up in public places, people walking around naked, doing wheelies on a wheelchair on high traffic roads, drug needles laying on the side walk, etc.

I think enforcing these laws would make Seattle safer and an overall better place to live.


I thought you were describing San Francisco.


I've heard that it's not legal to force people into rehab. But I can't see why this can't be done under something like the Baker Act.

If you're physically addicted to drugs, you are to some extent not capable of making rational choices, and this means you are a threat to yourself and to those around you. Could this not be a legal pretext to detain someone (humanely) and bring them to rehab treatment? Seems like a better alternative than jail, and certainly a better alternative to letting drug addicts rot on the streets.

I'm also not a lawyer and have no idea what I'm talking about, so feel free to lay into me and let me know why this idea is wrong or even crazy.


Usually how it works is if you break the law (eg, steal something) and get caught, you are arrested, then you get to see a judge. At that point it is up to the judge to push rehab as a punishment or prison. This depends on the laws of the area, the offense, and if this is a repeat offense.


I think you are in the right morally, and legislative position is not relevant - it should be based on morals. Various countries have/had absurd laws, such as making it illegal to insult the supreme leader, suicide is illegal, and having legal slavery, heresy, the list goes on and on. Today we regard those laws as stupid and cruel, and hopefully one day we will regard persecution of addicts with the same incredulity as we regard witch-hunts


Supervised consumption sites would go a long way toward fixing the needle problem.


We have safe injection sites up here in Vancouver, you still find used needles lying around everywhere, depending where you go, only you also find the small saline packs and disposable spoons from the injection sites lying around with the used needles.

The police don't really seem to care. I've watched a couple of officers find a small pile of used needles at one of the skytrain stations, they laughed to each other said how they should be cleaning that up, then just left. I know about an hour later, a bunch of school kids take the bus I was waiting for. Calling and reporting it did nothing.


Police just follow the lead of politicians.

Seattle Police ignore just about everything except active shooters. Even emergency calls about homeless brandishing knives in broad daylight are ignored. (If someone does get stabbed, the police will show.)

Seattle politicians have shown that they have no interest in keeping violent people off the streets, so the police don't waste their time with it.


> Seattle Police ignore just about everything except active shooters.

I've been away from Seattle for a while, so excuse me if it's changed. But I still remember quite well in 2010 when Seattle police gunned down a native american for crossing the street downtown, I think it was off of Howell. That guy used to ask me and my wife for change. His big crime was making a very young officer, I believe a recent arrival from the eastern part of the state, uncomfortable due to his skin color. Shot dead, in the back.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_John_T._Williams


While tragic, the death of JT Williams has nothing to do with the Seattle City Prosecutor and the King County Prosecutor refusing to charge or jail violent homeless junkies.

"Police accuse King County prosecutors of declining cases, not charging felons" https://www.kiro7.com/news/tonight-at-5-30-pm-police-accuse-...


Seattle has changed. A few weeks ago someone beat a police officer with a sunroof he'd just ripped of a car (after jumping on the other roofs of cars in traffic).

He was released 24 hours later.

On a simpler note I saw someone exposing themselves/defecating on a street corner in downtown. Some officers spoke to him but then they left.


Nothing concrete, but often calls to complain make it into a tally or database that can be cited by a politician looking to change things.


Seattle PD knows this so they take days to file basic reports. If you wanted to report the somebody broke into your car you could be waiting multiple days for someone to take the report.


It works both ways. If the city refuses to charge offenders and police refuse to arrest, crime goes down.


The police, of course, do seem to care, and they do care. It sucks that people like you try to get away with pulling one over on those who don't know the situation well enough and have to just trust you.


How? Junkies and other folks who throw needles on the street when there’s a trash can like 5 feet away will actually make appointments to stop at these consumption sites? Who pays for this? The city of Seattle makes a mess because of their extremist policies of not enforcing laws so let’s raise taxes to make up for it?


It's always amusing to me to hear people complain about taxes in Seattle. Washington State doesn't have an income tax, y'all. If you haven't figured out that a lot of the weird (and bad) city tax issues arise from that, welp.


To me all of these issues seem like the same ones San Francisco is facing, which leads me to conclude that neither lowering income taxes nor raising income taxes is likely to solve them.


I've lived in both those cities this decade; the results are in some cases similar, but the issues are in fact different. The thing that's similar: both cities are warm enough so that you can reasonably live on the streets year round. Boston's an intensely liberal city and nobody uses it as an example of how liberal cities always have homeless problems.

Similarly, Google "dallas homeless problem" sometime. Warm city, poor coordination of solutions for the homeless -- whoa, homeless populations are rising! But that once more does not fit the narrative, so nobody talks about it in threads like this.

(Houston is doing much better. Houston, unlike Seattle, has put a priority on coordinating efforts to help homeless. HUH.)

That said you're right -- it's not just about taxes. Seattle is low on revenue, but that's only part of why the city has failed to produce a coordinated response to homelessness. Bad organizational skills are not restricted to the right or the left, though.


Homelessness/drug use has indeed become a problem in Boston over the last few years - see [1]Methadone Mile and the problems in the [2]Common.

[1]https://apps.bostonglobe.com/graphics/2016/07/methadone-mile...

[2]https://www.bostonherald.com/2019/08/21/boston-common-jewel-...


a) Probably wise not to conflate homelessness with the opioid crisis. I would be a fool to argue that the latter correlates in any way with winter temperatures.

b) Different scale, man. Seattle's issues are way bigger than Methadone Mile. (I've lived in Boston too.)


Those are acute issues that can be directly linked to the closure of the shelter on Long Island.


More homeless die of hypothermia in Los Angeles than in NYC.


Please cite how Seattle's policy of not locking people up to rot in prison is extremist.

You had a viable argument right up until that point!

Edit: Thanks for the bot downvotes! Going from +2 to -1 in the span of a minute on two separate comments is a bit of a red flag :P


Not arressting people for theft is pretty extremist and I can't imagine how that is a good thing for the citizens of Seattle.


Adding a comment complaining about being downvoted tends to invite more downvotes from unrelated posters.


The timing is just so interesting though!

Two of my comments saw 3 downvotes in the span of a minute, the latter of which was much further down than this comment.


Amazing: A whole three downvotes! No way more than two people are reading this comment section at the same time.


I downvoted you, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a bot. I did so because failing to lock up people that commit serious crimes is prima facie extremist - no citation is necessary.


[flagged]


Downvoting is against the site’s policy? Why does the downvote button exist then?


Downvoting (from what I gather) is supposed to be used not as a disagree button, but rather as a tool when a comment doesn't add value to a conversation, hence why downvotes are so restricted on HN.


This is completely wrong.

dang - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17996858

PG - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=392347

Downvoting as a tool to show disagreement has always been standard practice here. Mini-modding on the other hand...


I think you have a misunderstanding of this issue. If that’s the case, essentially every downvote I have ever received was an “abuse” of the feature.


> Who pays for this?

sadly, me and other taxpayers like me in Seattle.


Observation to the contrary: availability of toilets does not fix "shitting on the streets" problem in SF.


Availability of toilets barely fixed the problem of urinating and defecating on the floor of the restroom in an office I used to work.


Unfortunately, the people that such initiatives are aimed at happen to be junkies. They will consume whenever and wherever they feel like it, just as many of them will steal from the most convenient target when they need more money for a fix. Further, the optics of state-sanctioned drug use sites are pretty bad, even in the most liberal of cities.


No it wouldn’t. They wouldn’t use them. Junkies reuse needles they find on the ground because they don’t care... they aren’t going to go to a specific place to wait in line to shoot up.


When I was out there last fall, we stayed in Belltown and walked all over. I'm wondering, where was all this squalor you speak of? I came out with a very different impression of the city than you describe. Obviously you would know better, so I'm just wondering, did I get lucky?


The geography of homelessness in Seattle still eludes me, but Belltown just isn't one of the high-concentration areas. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, Pioneer Square and the International District are hotspots. This may be due to shelters and missions (places to get food and housing) being more concentrated there.

Homelessness and drug use also comes in very different forms even within Seattle; I live in Ballard, and most of our homeless and drug-addicted community lives in beaten-up RVs parked on the side of the road.


Perhaps you got lucky. Belltown isnt as bad as some other areas, but in my one year of daily walking commutes through Belltown I saw

1. A person OD'd (presumably dead) at a bus stop

2. Someone passed out, face down in the gutter

3. Multiple people shooting up (usually pants down, shooting into leg)

4. A guy that would regularly walk around shouting and gesturing angrily, making everyone near by visibly anxious

5. One guy literally rolling around in the middle of the street during rush hour, holding up busses and cars

6. A fight, fortunately broken up caused by a homeless guy spitting on another guy

7. People selling stolen goods in the open

8. Finally, some guy got shot in an alley in the middle of broad daylight on like, a Tuesday a couple weeks back.

Not offering suggestions, merely documenting my experiences. I am genuinely glad you had a good trip to Seattle, though


I live in Seattle and take the bus to work downtown every day. I think I've seen, maybe three needles in five years.


I've lived in Seattle for 1.5 years. I became numb to the hyperbole around the homeless problem here in 6 months. One side is talking facts, experimentation, and trying new things. The other side is talking feelings, fears, and taking every misstep as an opportunity to abandon any notion of solving the problem in an ethical way.

It is really interesting, especially on a site like HN, because the latter is directly contrary to the ethos of most startups.



It's certainly not just Seattle either, the large-scale homeless/junky situation describes basically every west coast city.

There's obviously a much deeper problem.


Isn’t the problem simply overly liberal policy making? It seems moderation has disappeared on the West coast, and these cities basically don’t enforce laws against those pursuing a nomadic drug centric lifestyle on the backs of taxpayer supported land/amenities/services.


The severe wealth stratification that has occurred over the last few decades has left the majority of Americans facing a grim future of low earnings and unstable employment.

Its easy to see how that would make many people depressed and lead to a cycle of addiction to escape this crappy reality.


Bollocks, overall more people are rising out of poverty


Are you referring to the global overall rise out of poverty? or specifically the 'west coast cities' as were mentioned higher up in the thread?

Either way, from what I've been witnessing, as the commenter above yours was saying - but in a more specific way, is that many people who once had a fair amount of discretionary spending ability have seen that money sucked up into higher rents and needs for broadband - having more needs for kids and slightly higher expenses for many things all around... it appears that saving to do big things is not an option.

all the while seeing people on instagram living best lives of travel and decadence, many people can't even afford to make healthy choices for food - that once could.

More and more people who were above poverty are finding the higher rents and other expenses taking them into debt with no good way out - more and more people are getting unbanked by fees, and leaning on pawn shops / family and friends to skirt by getting power and water turned back on.

Sometimes they climb back up out of this, but I think more and more people are just simply going without. Going without dental care and healthy food. Skipping meals. There appears to be a bunch of people using dating apps to get free food.

Just that reality is hitting people - and if they can an unexptected larger expense - they are over the edge.

I don't think we have good statistics to show all this. It may seem that poverty is being reduced, and I saw a meme saying the avg household has gained 5k per year lately.. but that's not enough to take care of the basics for most people I see around our growing city that is not on the west coast.

I hear that things like this are even worse elsewhere.


Tell that to those forced out by skyrocketing housing costs a la San Francisco, and as I've come to understand, parts of Seattle.


(Most of Seattle)


The official poverty line is drawn by the government. It's great news for them if the poverty line rises slower than cost of living increases.


Amusingly, it's entirely possible that the deepest problem is cleanly illustrated by the other two replies to your comment (throwawaysea blaming liberalism and allana blaming wealth inequality) as we talk around one another's preconceived notions of how the world works until we drive off a cliff.


>I do believe that there needs to be an honest discussion about the limits of rehabilitation.

First I think we need to have an honest discussion about actually trying rehabilitation. The criminal justice system is more concerned with retribution than rehabilitation.


Do you think there would be fewer needles outside your apartment if we simply locked these people up? I think there would be more.

I agree that the limits of rehabilitation need to be seriously considered, and that good policy requires a mix of approaches. That said, all of your arguments could be applied to alcoholics during prohibition.

I think if we actually want a sense of community in this city, it starts by treating our neighbors as humans. These drug users are your neighbors. What are you doing to help them?


If my neighbor beat his wife, damaged my car and pissed on my house I would do exactly what ever good neighbor should- call the cops and make sure they have enough evidence to send his ass to jail. The problem is when the cops don’t come then what do you do?


Good neighbors don't act the way junkies act. Good neighbors respect boundaries. Good neighbors don’t: break in cars, break in garages, steal bicycles, threaten customers and staff at restaurants, nod out in the middle if the sidewalk, chase after women waving their dicks, move to your fair city to take advantage of your compassion, etc. (Actual events from this week)


If the police don't come, it's a breakdown of civilization. Buy a gun.


Seattle has no gun stores anymore, they ran them off with continuous passed anti-gun laws.


The point really is resort to violence. If people can't get access to guns, I'm confident they can be enterprising enough to find other ways to defend themselves and their property.


> The reporters designation of "figured out" seems to stem more from the fact that the solution fits his own view than any actual real evidence.

It's an opinion piece.


Junkies tend to be people with overwhelming problems who can't make their lives work. Throwing people in jail is usually not a means to make their lives suddenly start working.

I think you solve problems like widespread drug use by repairing the tattered social fabric that of this country which has taken such a toll on so many of the people who live here.


What about not ruining everyone else’s lives and the public health issues these people create? Not a fan of conservative ideology, but surely there is some level of personal responsibility and accountability they have towards the public? And when they betray that buy shitting on public areas or leaving needles near playgrounds, I think it’s not only reasonable but necessary to incarcerate them—for their own good and the public’s.


Lack of adequate housing supply is a contributing factor to homelessness. If you are just throwing people in jail and not addressing issues of that ilk, it rapidly becomes unsustainable.

Criminals in jail are a burden on society. Functional, productive, tax paying citizens are assets to society. Rehabilitation is not charity. It's enlightened self interest.

I'm not advocating for kind of bleeding heart "charity" here.


Interesting. Some of the benefits of decriminalizing can probably only be realized if it's done as a national level, so I'm pretty skeptical of just how successful local initiatives can be.

I wonder how Portugal achieved such supposed success in decriminalizing drug use.


Jesus dude. Just the "junkies" comment shows that you aren't even open to a different approach.


The purpose of this article is different - someone will say "the safety situation in Seattle is terrible because of ultra-liberal drug policies". Then you are supposed to reply with this article as a counter. And New York Times beats The Seattle Times, so you've won the argument.

It's all about providing a counter-narrative to prevent cognitive dissonance.


Eventually a junkie will commit a serious crime against one of the tech luminaries that live in and around Seattle. I’m guessing that the lax enforcement environment will be gone within about a day of that incident.

Seattle is playing with fire here. I wouldn’t set foot in a city where hard drug use is tolerated, and seemingly celebrated, by many of the people that live there. Junkies will do whatever is necessary to get their next fix. It seems like a bad idea to be anywhere near a city with policies that both attract and help create them.


I dunno, may be you are right -- that the "right" person hasn't been assaulted, raped or killed yet.

Certainly, the high profile stabbing in front of Nordstroms didn't do much. Nor, did much change when the homeless guy was stopped from throwing a women on her way to work off an I-5 overpass. Or the lady who was raped by the homeless guy at the U-district car dealership after dropping her car off for an oil change on her way to work in the morning.

I assume it would have to be someone connected to the local government. It took about five seconds to change the 2nd Ave bike lanes when a city employee was killed riding her bike down there.


Your last graf implies that there was some nefarious favoritism that gave a turbo boost to Seattle's 2nd Ave bike lane project, due to the connectedness of the woman killed shortly before it took effect.

If you are referring to the well known tragic death of Sher Kung in August 2014, just before the September 2014 scheduled opening of the 2nd Ave bike lane, you are very wrong. The project had been underway long before that.


Good point. And, this victim was not a city worker, but a civil rights attorney at a large well-connected law firm.

It sure seemed to me that after her tragic death the call for bike safety was turned up to 11.

We haven't reached that point yet re homeless/junkie assaults. It will take the right person to get killed or raped for that to happen.


I am still heartbroken that Mia Zapata was brutally murdered.


There was a video of a man in a Seattle target last year. Guy goes on a 15 min rampage in downtown and nobody shows up to stop him. That’s the state of decriminalization we have hit.

https://youtu.be/KA3KQCYI17U


I am just astounded that this is being spun in such a positive light. It absolutely has had a negative impact on public safety here. They're offered public services, and they refuse them, because many of our "tiny villages" have no-drug-use policies, which they will not abide by.

My city has one of the worst problems with repeat violent drug addicts in the nation (perhaps aside from the Bay) and yet we refuse to jail those who attack members of the public.

Just a few weeks ago we released a known violent repeat offender who four days later tossed a hot coffee on an infant.

Up in Ballard we released a guy who then chased people down with a pitchfork. Another is intent on assaulting the new Park Couriers who's job it is to keep people from open-using heroin in our public parks.

There's a guy down at an I-5 onramp in downtown who keeps trying to throw small women off the overpass. He keeps failing at doing so, and the cops say "Can't do anything, he hasn't actually thrown somebody off". I guess we'll just wait until he succeeds.

Oh well. I guess we'll just keep pointing these people towards social services, which they'll refuse again, lock them up for some token amount of time, and wait for them to harm the public again.


Having had to deal with issues in Seattle myself and having had family members that were the victims of crime in Seattle I'm sympathetic however can't we do a better job of dealing with the violent and deal with addicts without throwing them into an oubliette?

Regarding the idiot trying to throw women over the overpass. Your statement is in error. It's a crime to try to harm people as well and he has in fact been arrested repeatedly.

https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/man-arrested-for-trying-to-...

The problem is they keep dismissing the charges because he is incompetent AND not locking him up for everyone's safety not that they haven't arrested him.

They are currently trying to figure out what to do with him this time now

19-1-02095-1 SEA STATE OF WASHINGTON VS WILSON, JONATHAN JAMES Criminal - Active

https://dja-prd-ecexap1.kingcounty.gov/?q=node/405/2696881/F...

Lets hope they decide to do something smarter this time.


I think the tough call needs to be made that when someone is obviously mentally ill, homeless and without proper sane supervision, the State should institutionalize them indefinitely.


And also suspend pretty basic rights, and deal with all the outcomes from people being institutionalized for not so well meaning reasons?


Someone who is unwell who has committed multiple lesser acts of violence should probably be locked up for at least a little while sufficient for us to figure out if he is going to do it again.


Committing acts of violence wasn't in GP post. That's a detail you've added.

If someone has committed acts of violence you lock them up for those acts.


This entire thread split off the post that read in part.

>There's a guy down at an I-5 onramp in downtown who keeps trying to throw small women off the overpass.

This is what we are discussing.


What basic right allows you to try and murder someone?


Police arrive at your home and they detain you, and take you to hospital. They claim that you might murder someone.

How do you get out of hospital?


I'd admit my brother if he were doing this. Say what you will about the ghoulish hollywood history of asylums, but surviving on the streets is no environment to improve your mental health.


Do you think there is no objective standard by which we can judge consistent, completely insane, detached behavior?


I know for a fact that there's no way we can tell who out of that group of "completely insane" is likely to be violent.

What you're asking for is detention of people with a disability because they have a disability. That's not allowed under the UN CRPD.


I truly don't understand the world you inhabit. A prior history of repeated attempts to commit harm are a pretty good predictor of future actions absent a compelling narrative suggesting otherwise.

Ex. Patient A was doing foo harmful behavior until we changed their medication and the devil stopped appearing in their dreams to give them orders.

Patient B had a history of trying to bite nurses noses off but has been well behaved for 2 years now and participating in therapy.

Every first world nation has standards and procedures for detaining people who are unwell and a danger to themselves and others. It usually involves "expert" opinion and bad behavior to get into such a situation and "expert" opinion to get out. There is an entire history of bad behavior and bad science involved here but the substitute for bad science is better science not let people get away with infinite malfeasance because they are nuts.

People are for example sometimes ordered to facilities where they may receive treatment in place of detention in prison or be taken into custody in the process of some bad behavior and be subjected to an evaluation based on their behavior.

What do you suggest we do with the guy trying to throw women into traffic when he is inevitably declared crazy? Dismiss the charges and let him go? Would you rather

-- He get the treatment he so clearly needs.

-- Someone get murdered by him.

-- The citizenry take matters into their own hands and rid themselves of him.

Option A is surely infinity preferable.


Again, you've added "prior history of violence". In that case we're not incarcerating people because they are disabled, we're incarcerating them for committing crime.

GP post calls for indefinite detention merely for being ill.

> I think the tough call needs to be made that when someone is obviously mentally ill, homeless and without proper sane supervision, the State should institutionalize them indefinitely.

There's nothing in this sentence about violent behaviour.

> Every first world nation has standards and procedures for detaining people who are unwell and a danger to themselves and others. It usually involves "expert" opinion and bad behavior to get into such a situation and "expert" opinion to get out.

You may want to read article 14 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD). https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-...

> 1. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others:

> a) Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person;

> b) Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.

Especially read this bit: "and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty."

Now read what the committee for CRPD say about detaining mentally ill people because they are mentally ill: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CRPD/GC/GuidelinesA...

> III. The absolute prohibition of detention on the basis of impairment

> 6. There are still practices in which States parties allow for the deprivation of liberty on the grounds of actual or perceived impairment.1 In this regard the Committee has established that article 14 does not permit any exceptions whereby persons may be detained on the grounds of their actual or perceived impairment. However, legislation of several States parties, including mental health laws, still provide instances in which persons may be detained on the grounds of their actual or perceived impairment, provided there are other reasons for their detention, including that they are deemed dangerous to themselves or others. This practice is incompatible with article 14; it is discriminatory in nature and amounts to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

> There is an entire history of bad behavior and bad science involved here but the substitute for bad science is better science not let people get away with infinite malfeasance because they are nuts.

The long history is that people wrongly think mental illness causes violence (it doesn't) or that we can predict violence because of mental illness (we can't). If someone is committing acts of violence you have a criminal justice system that should deal with them, and that may involve forensic hospitals. But they're there because of the violence, not because of the mental illness.

But that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that unethical_ban is wrong to call for indeterminate detention of people just because those people are mentally ill.


I don't think the US ever ratified the CRPD and we are talking about Seattle.

Are you seriously arguing that a person of average intelligence can figure out which people wandering around obviously fucked up in the head might hurt them but science can't I don't find this claim credible.


Solving community problems come with community sacrifices. I'm a big proponent of housing first, drug rehab second. It is exponentially harder to get clean without housing and a support network. Decriminalizing drug addiction is a good step in that direction IMO. I think another side of this coin though is we need to bring back institutionalization of mental health care. Implemented today it would be vastly different from the 80's and before because our understanding of therapy has gone from stirring up and injecting memories into people to cognitive behavioral therapy which is very much a feel good form of therapy. I question your statement about the guy on the 1-5 ramp attempting to throw small women off the overpass. How is attempted defined here? Does he grab them? If so he would definitely be arrested for battery charges. I get the impression he is probably chasing them and saying he is going to do it. That seems like a legitimate reason to get someone mental health help but not a legitimate reason to incarcerate someone. As long as we have this gaping hole in our system that just ignores mental health problems or tries to categorize them as criminal we will continue to have this problem.

Source on housing first being effective: https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.94.4...


Housing first is effective for people who want our idea of a 'normal lifestyle'

I think people in this thread are asking you to question your assumption- do you think every drug addict on the west coast wants to hold down a job and live our normal life?


People don't want to be drug addicts and live a poor existence to feed a habit. They have problems, they use the drugs to medicate or fit in, the problems compound with drug use, so they use more to deal with the problems more. They are also ostracized by communities which nobody likes as we are social creatures. The level of that social exclusion probably depends a lot on their current level of wealth. People like having shelter and their physical needs met and while they might not necessarily want normal either, I'd argue a big part of that is more that they have poor coping strategies and don't now how to cope with normal. There will always be people who don't fall into certain strategies for combating homelessness and drug addiction, but this is a much better approach than doing what amounts to nothing.


> People don't want to be drug addicts and live a poor existence to feed a habit.

Non-addicts don't. Addicts do. Addictive people are stuck in the middle oscillating.

Free will + mind-altering drugs is a fundamentally hard problem.


I definitely disagree. The oscillation is not out of actually wanting to be addicts, it is because they lack the coping skills to deal with trying to get clean and dealing with the world on someone's terms other than their own. There is a big difference between wanting to be something and feeling like you have no other alternatives other than to become that something.


I'm pretty sure that for a lot of these people, their "dream life" would be one in which they're a productive member of society and use drugs all day, and the drugs just happen to have no negative side-effects.

People don't want to live like drug addicts; but nor do they want to stop using drugs.

To reverse the timeline of an obvious example: the people on the street addicted to heroin, would much rather just become people working regular jobs who are prescribed heroin.

These people probably they got addicted to heroin because of chronic pain, and probably that chronic pain hasn't gone away. So any time the heroin is wearing off, the pain comes back, and that decreases the amount of energy/willpower they have to do anything besides the simplest, shortest-term thing they can do to stave off the pain: buy more street heroin.

You might wean them off heroin, but you aren't gonna make them not take some painkiller, because they still have chronic pain. They'll always be "a drug addict" in a technical sense; they need painkillers the same way people with diabetes need insulin.


Why are you assuming that giving a person a house means they have to have a normal life? Can't they live in the house and continue not to have a job and continue living a non-normal life and get clean too?


> do you think every drug addict on the west coast wants to hold down a job and live our normal life?

That's not the relevant question. Is it better for the rest of us if that drug addict is on the side walk or living inside? In the latter case, there's a better chance of treatment success, but it's also better when they remain addicts.


Here's more details on I-5 guy,

https://www.seattlepi.com/local/crime/article/Charge-Man-att...

So he only

* pepper sprayed someone

* punched multiple people in the face

This wasnt enough for him to be charged.


> He keeps failing at doing so, and the cops say "Can't do anything, he hasn't actually thrown somebody off".

How does that play out such that they can't get him on some type of assault / harassment? Is he politely asking these women if they would like to be thrown off the overpass and politely walking off when they demur?


Oh sorry, they actually can do something; in fact they've caught-and-released this guy three times before finally saying "Maybe he is dangerous": https://www.seattlepi.com/local/crime/article/Charge-Man-att...

But I'm not holding my breath for them to actually put him away, given their past decisions to not separate him from the public.


From that article:

> Charges for the first three assaults were dismissed by the City of Seattle because of mental health concerns, prosecutors said in the charging papers.

Jesus, WTF? If he is attacking people because of mental illness, why isn't he locked up in a mental hospital? "Sorry, you attacked people but you're crazy, so have a nice day!" And why is trying to throw someone off an overpass charged with assault and not with attempted murder?


https://mynorthwest.com/1315319/seattle-jonathan-james-wilso...?

"An individual cannot legally be prosecuted in the criminal justice system if they are not competent because they will not be able to assist in their own defense. When a Mental Health Evaluation determines that an individual is not competent, prosecutors may move for competency restoration. In the three Seattle Municipal Court cases involving Mr. Wilson, the prosecutor did not request competency restoration."

competency restoration is putting a defendant in hospital pending return of competency: https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/fixing-the-system/fe...

> And why is trying to throw someone off an overpass charged with assault and not with attempted murder?

"The filed charge is Attempted Assault in the First Degree. That crime requires proof of intent to inflict great bodily harm. Attempted Murder in the Second Degree would require proof of intent to actually cause death. Because these are “attempted” crimes, the critical difference between them is the defendant’s actual intent. We are aware from indications in prior case dockets that the defendant has a history of mental health issues. Given that history, the fact that we are early in the investigation, and that the victim thankfully suffered only minor injuries, we chose to file the case conservatively. We can always consider adding Attempted Murder as the case proceeds towards trial. "

The short of it is that society mentally ill criminals are in the middle of a justice system that requires mental health, and a mental health system that refuses to hold people by force, and isn't funded to its expensive needs. It's one of the many logical inconsistencies of law, and the cost of emphasizing compassion over general safety.

Before you say "emphasize safety more", realize that this leads to giving the State a long leash to use on citizens who might not be mentally nor criminal, but merely accused as such by the state.

In short, this is why we can't have nice things. The risk of harm from a mentally ill person on a bridge is the price society pays for not being able to field a trustworthy government.


Once you voluntarily make the claim, "I am too insane for the criminal justice system to apply to me," things seem more clear cut. If you feel you're innocent and sane, choose a different defense?


I don't think they have any mental hospitals to put him in. Locking people up in mental hospitals isn't much of a thing anymore.


Does Seattle / Washington not have anything? I live in one of those "poor Red states", and we absolutely do. I know a few folks who have been forcefully committed, though the common denominator seemed self-harm as opposed to harming passerby.

Seems very odd Wilson managed to dodge both mental facilities and prisons.


Not odd at all in Seattle. Repeat homeless/junkie offenders around these parts have dozens of prior arrests or convictions. They have been arrested so many times that they know how to work the system. They are untouchable.

The guy who stabbed people at 10am in front of the Nordstroms downtown flagship store, took several steps to evade capture, hide weapons, etc. All indications that he knew he was committing a crime when he stabbed his victims.

Then when the jig was up (as police closed in on him) he stripped his clothes off so we get the "naked man" headline.

Why would he strip his clothes off? Sounds like he was taking deliberate steps to increase the likelihood of being found mentally incompetent knowing that local prosecutors tend to dismiss such cases.

Also, Seattle's city prosecutor and head public defender jointly and publicly admonished a judge that refused to release one of these career criminals when requested to by the prosecutor.


I know that in Vancouver our municipal and provincial government both repeatedly chose to de-fund and close long-term mental-health care facilities, effectively dumping the patients in them onto the street. It's a large part of our current homeless population.


> I know a few folks who have been forcefully committed

Long term? After the deinstitutionalization movement in the US, it's possible to get people forcibly committed for short term evaluations (a 72 hour "Baker Act" evaluation), but long term involuntary commitment is quite rare.


Hm, I think it's the first time I see a "451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons" in the wild.


The cops probably noted the victim was a woman. No big deal?


Do you have any statistics to back that up (violence rate)? I don’t feel like anecdotes make for good conversation here.


Yeah I mean, without statistics his anecdotes are meaningless. It's a common thing to complain here in Seattle, but having lived in the Midwest for most of my life I know what true violence looks like and feels like. I don't hear guns every night like I did in KC. There aren't 600 murders a year like in Chicago. I'm not saying Seattle is perfect but I've never felt safer.

And I live in the Central District, which is one of the more violent neighborhoods.


I agree, when I lived in Seattle it was just... normal. There are more homeless people than in most other places but by and large there were no issues I ran into. I saw needles a couple times and was harassed by someone who was almost certainly schizophrenic, but that happens in all medium-large cities.

Although I never experienced it and don't know many people who have, I will say that property crimes need to be prosecuted. The only common case I've really heard of is getting bikes stolen (which, again, happens pretty much everywhere) and I assume there is probably some shoplifting too. That's not really even that bad either, and again is par for the course in major cities, but it definitely should be prosecuted when possible.

I agree that a lot of people are simply bothered by having to walk past homeless people and don't want to see or think about them, ever. It's just not really an issue that will affect you very often, on average.


I live in Seattle (Central District), and was harassed by a homeless person a half hour ago, had our bike stolen last week, saw a homeless person peeing 40 feet from my house an hour ago, and had three car break-ins and one car theft in the last year. All my neighbors have very similar experiences, and the above list is far from comprehensive for the last year. It's genuinely scary and disturbing living here, and I do regularly think about moving because of the level of crime.


Get out of Central District for starters. East Side, West Seattle (north part at least) are still nice and safe.


Yes, let’s abandon the city to the criminals.


Shoreline,Bellevue woodinville and Redmond all good places to move.


It wasn’t this bad in the 90s or 80s, when crime was higher everywhere else. Relatively speaking, Seattle is worse off than it was before, which is a bit sad for the non transplants.


I moved to Seattle in 1994 and it's not clear to me that it's worse now than then. Clearly many neighborhoods are not worse, there's been a huge amount of gentrification over the 25 years I've been here. Homelessness and drug issues were big problem back then, too.

I've lived mainly on Capitol Hill and it's a safer and "nicer" place than it was back in the 90's. I had drug deals happening on corner outside my house back then, the neighborhood is great now. I also lived downtown, where Pike St. between 1st and 2nd Aves was horrendous with homelessness and drug use. Clearly much nicer now. The Central District (the other neighborhood I'm most familiar with) has also undergone huge level of gentrification since then, is much "nicer" place to live than it was in the 90's.

Yes, homelessness, and drug use and mental health issues are big problems, and I'm not sure the city has taken best approach to them. But it's easy to criticize without having better answer. The sensationalist ranting I hear sometimes in media and in personal anecdotes seems pretty misleading.


I dunno, the common refrain I hear from native Seattleites is that many places -- like Fremont, Ballard, and West Seattle, were truly awful in the 80s & 90s. Usually just at the mention of where I live, which is one of those neighborhoods.

Compared to Orlando and Salt Lake City, Seattle feels about on par to me with regards to safety and the homeless problem (adjusted for the much higher population & density). Which is useless information because it is an anecdote, but the best way to bring data into a conversation is a lot of useless competing anecdotes.


I lived in all three of those places in the early 90s (as a UW student and with my aunt near Alaska Junction in West Seattle). No, at least then, they weren’t as bad, or bad at all.

Ballard? I’m not even sure where it being dangerous would come from, maybe getting run down by a bad Norwegian driver? Checkout Cops in Ballard: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hGlDVmBLibg

(Yes, that is Bill Nye)


I was mugged multiple time in the u-district in the 90s. The ave in general is far less sketchy than it used to be.

Ballard is much worse. It's gone from an enclave of retired scandy fishermen to hip neighborhood with a thriving walkable main drag. Because much of the street parking is still free the homeless living out of barely functional vans and rvs can live without hassle and attempt to panhandle on the drag. I imagine that at least some of those vehicles are also essentially drug emporiums further concentrating the homeless population that is hooked. ... Still not as sketchy as the u-district in the 90s though.


Someone points out the crime rates are better, not worse? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20781556


Exactly this. Transplants are part of the problem though - they’ve brought their political culture/voting habits/policies with them, and are ruining a formerly effectively managed city without asking why it was attractive to move here in the first place.


Please go ask the lifers at the May Day riots how they feel about the effective management of the city before all these darn transplants showed up.


Every stat on violent crime I’ve seen is that the 80s were a peak tho?


The homeless problem wasn’t as large in the 80s, violent crime was maybe higher, but property crime seems to have been lower.

I worked at 3rd and pine McDonald’s in 94-95 (one of the main hangouts for Seattle’s homeless population back then), and downtown was a lot more sane back then. The policing was much more aggressive than it is today, which I think had a large part to do with that.


Do you have statistics to back up this claim?


[flagged]


This is not a partisan issue, it's a miscommunication.

There's a large chunk of people who think that "Let's take repeat violent offenders off the streets" translates to "Let's take away offered social programs and criminalize being poor", which is not a fruitful dialog.


Amy time you ask to lock up dangerous individuals the response is always that you hate the homeless, you lack empathy and that criminal justice doesn’t work. It’s worse than the gun debate


You’re minimising the throwing hot coffee in a toddlers face.


No such thing was done. You can find instances of awful stuff happening in any city- anywhere in the world. This is exactly what makes statistics useful.


Statistics can be misleading. The vast majority of incidents aren't reported, and if they are filed they are filed under generic labels.


But anecdotes can be misleading too. The only thing left then is ideology.


They don't have statistics to back their position, this attitude of not working from the data we have is such an issue that it has become local satire in Seattle: http://theneedling.com/2019/02/05/magnolia-named-worlds-most...


The Seattle police hardly show up anymore unless there is an active shooter.

No arrest, no statistics. When they do arrest someone, the city and county prosecutors often refuse to press charges. No charge, no statistics.


> is such an issue

The needling is also not working from data...


The article is satirizing sentiment reflected in data gathered by Seattle U and reported on by the Seattle Times[1].

This was linked in that Needling article.

[1] https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/mean-world-sy...


I like The Needling's tag line, Seattle's only Real Fake News.


They produce some great articles :3


Do you need statistics to tell you that it's wrong to not prosecute violent repeat offenders?


Gimme the details then? How did it happen? What was the justification if any? Did it actually happen?



For the people you describe, there are basically no social services. The typical cycle is: 1 - police arrest them 2 - if they seem psychotic or mentally troubled they get dropped off at an ER 3 - the social workers at the ER (mostly) unsuccessfully try to find a place for them at a mental health provider 4 - eventually they get released by court order 5 - cycle repeats

I have friend that is on the front line as a social worker. Any time one of these prominent incidents occurs, I make sure to ask if she knows the perp. And about 50% of the time they are a former patient that she couldn't find a spot for at a mental institution.

trentnix 23 days ago [flagged]

Often reality doesn’t fit the narrative, comrade.


Maybe not, but please don't post unsubstantive comments to Hacker News.


What about all the people who aren't running around with pitchforks who have been diverted out of the addiction to prison pipeline?

Would you rather be paying $100,000+ a year/person to judge and jail them for the crime of being addicted while poor? (I've yet to see people entering that pipeline for the crime of being addicted while rich.)


Well that's a gross misrepresentation of what I said, and a really weird dichotomy to boot.

I said that these violent addicts are refusing offered social services, yet we let them walk around and continue to harm the public.


I concur. its easy to feel sympathy for these addicts till you have to deal with them day by day. In the end I left san Francisco because of the constant badgering from homeless people and the waste they would leave everywhere. This is also an issue I've only really seen in America, the homeless in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur that I encountered were super polite and conscientious by comparison.


> Well that's a gross misrepresentation of what I said,

No, it's not.

What you said, in response to the article was:

> I am just astounded that this is being spun in such a positive light.

The implication here is that redirecting non-violent addicts off the addiction --> prison pipeline was a policy mistake.

I ask why you think that non-violent addicts should be put into prison. You tell me I'm grossly misrepresenting your point of view.

Which point of view do you actually hold? Do you think that non-violent addicts should be provided with help, or prison? Pick one, and own it.

I don't care one whit about your opinions on violent people in public spaces. I doubt they differ from mine, and it's not an interesting conversation.


You replied to a post complaining that the policy also seemed to be giving violent individuals a pass, and accused them of "think[ing] that non-violent addicts should be put into prison". Which was neither said nor (as you claim) implied. The comment was explicitly bemoaning a perceived plague of "repeat violent drug addicts"


The policy being shilled by the article in question is about non-violent addicts.

Whatever problems the commenter in question has with violent criminals has absolutely nothing to do with it - but they chose to attack the non-violent policy (And then get defensive about how their points are being misconstrued. What are those points, then? Violent crime is bad, and should be dealt with? I don't think anyone disagrees with that one. What does it have to do with a diversion of non-violent addicts?)

It's like complaining that standards on organically-grown produce aren't preventing contaminated meat from ending up at your grocery store. Whatever problems you have with contaminated meat have nothing to do with the produce policy.


False dilemma. We can mandate them by court order to attend treatment programs. There are ways of helping petty criminals that don't involve locking them in a box 24/7.


They are ordered to treatment. Many don't go.


Sure you can, but do we? And are there sufficient facilities to do so? A judge also mandated that the federal government house migrant children in a humane way but how well is that working out...point being that you can’t mandate something that there are no resources to do.


That’s just crazy talk. Next you are going suggest free healthcare for all or something communist like that.


Just looked up the hot coffee case. It could only happen in a city with strict gun laws. In Texas someone would have enacted his sheriff fantasies on this perpetrator a long time ago.


Seattle, part of Washington, actually has concealed carry as legal. There is no duty to retreat either, no real different than any "gun friendly" state. So your point is invalid. Anyone can have loaded carry pistol, this shows you to be pointless in this example.

I assume you're just trying to troll and failing badly.


Yes, but Seattle being Seattle it is not populated by the kind of people who will pack heat. That's like saying "well Austin is part of Texas so why doesn't everyone wear a cowboy hat and go hog hunting on the weekend." Both those cities are basically San Fransisco demographically speaking.

And just because concealed carry legal doesn't mean the process is constructed in such a way that normal people can actually do it (see CA, MA, NYC and NJ for examples of this) though I'm not sure about Seattle specifically.


Concealed carry in WA and Seattle is just a background check and a 30-60 day wait, less rigorous than Utah and shorter wait.

But I see you're the type of person who will just shift arguments instead of having an honest discussion so I'm done with you.


WA is a shall issue state. As long as you pass the criminal background check you get a concealed pistol license.


It is currently, but Nick Haneaur and the I-1639 crowd are doing everything they can to not so gradually chip away at gun rights for law abiding WA residents.


Isn't Washington a open carry state?


Probably. IIRC most states are. Pretty much nobody who isn't a security guard or armored car employee who's actively working open carries not on their own property in any state.


Doesn’t really mean much when open carrying immediately results in the police showing up/inciting panic.


As it fucking should. Don't carry a gun openly. That's just sociopathic behavior.


What strict gun laws in Seattle are you referring to, exactly?


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