As a society we refuse to tolerate crime and disorder. Our principal concern is to preserve and enhance public safety. However, a closer look at our crime policies shows how extravagantly we've been wasting taxpayer dollars on ineffective and counterproductive strategies. We've been pursuing "feel good" policies that don't make us any safer, locking up non-violent people who do not threaten community safety but who suffer instead from treatable mental illness or addiction.
Punishing them in this way has worsened their condition and made them less functional -- leaving us less safe and costing us more. The punitive approach may work for some offenders, but a more therapeutic approach works much better for others.
A cornerstone of my public service has been to promote rational sentencing reform and evidence-based public safety policies. We've talked about being "tough on crime" but we've actually been tough on the budget. With limited resources available for essential government functions we must focus on the proper public safety priorities, working to reduce physical harm to others, especially from the chronic problems of drunk driving and domestic violence. Those are key issues I've been working hard to address in the Washington State Legislature. Otherwise it's essential for us to reduce the bloated caseloads in our courts and provide instead more supportive services and assistance for socially displaced people who now languish in jails and prisons.