The Seattle Municipal Court is launching a program to keep people who commit the lowest-level crimes out of jail. For years, critics from various points on the political spectrum have criticized the revolving door in and out of the courthouse, as people charged with low-level offenses like theft and criminal trespass cycle through the system repeatedly. Those cases have also reflected racial disparity. The goal of the Seattle Community Court is to halt that cycle and reduce the racially disparate outcomes. The program allows low-level offenders to avoid jail and involves community service hours, an assessment of someone’s needs and, depending on the crime, 14-60 days of engagement with the court system and the services.

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