City Council Approves Option For Enhanced Sentencing For Repeat Offenders In Everett, Washington

December 20, 2023

Everett Government

Everett City Council

Click to see the proposed ordinance which passed.

In a vote of 4 to 2 (Councilmember Vogeli was not present), the Everett City Council Wednesday night approved an ordinance that allows city prosecutors in Everett, Washington to ask a court to impose a mandatory sentence of 30 days upon conviction for the crimes of assault, harassment, use of a controlled substance in public, loitering for the purpose of engaging in drug related activity, theft, criminal mischief, trespass, or vehicle prowling if: (1) the prosecutor elects to file a notice of seeking a repeat offender sentencing enhancement, and (2) the defendant has two or more “prior offense” convictions within the preceding two years that occurred within Snohomish County.

Qualifying prior offenses include assault, harassment, use of a controlled substance in public, loitering for the purpose of engaging in drug related activity, theft, criminal mischief, trespass, or vehicle prowling, or any of those crimes’ analogues in state, county, or city law.

The ordinance allows but does not require the Prosecutor to ask for the enhancement on prior offenders.

The City of Everett still encourages diversion through the municipal court’s Mental Health Alternatives (MAP) program and Therapeutic Services Court (TSC).

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin advised the ordinance is not a cure for crimes being committed in the city but one more tool in the tool box to try to reduce crime and break a cycle of repeat offenders continuing to commit crimes.

A City attorney emphasized that while not expressly targeting those arrested for substance abuse violations, it is expected to reduce recidivism and assist those facing a possible enhanced sentence in choosing alternative sentencing and treatment.

Multiple public speakers argued against the ordinance as being expensive and ineffective.

Schwab – This is a small group of repeat offenders and this will have positive effects and add some hope to victims that there are consequences for committing crimes.

Fosse – I don’t like that this takes away discretion from the judges. Proposed amendment of wording in ordinance from “shall impose” to “may impose” with a second by Councilmember Rhyne. The amendment failed 4 – 2. A second amendment to add the words “or similar” when referring to applicable diversion programs passed unanimously. A third amendment that would require an annual report back to council providing statistics including the number of individuals, charges, convictions, recidivism rates and statistics along with a breakdown of costs. That third amendment also passed unanimously. Fosse did say she can’t support the ordinance.

Rhyne – Putting this ordinance in place without changes to the exit practices of the jail is not going to be effective. I can’t support this ordinance.

Zarlingo – I don’t think this is perfect but we meet every week and we can see how this goes and we can consider changes after we see how it goes.

Stonecipher – I think providing an opportunity to choose treatment over jail is worth trying and I love the idea of having data to come back to us.

The ordinance passed with Rhyne and Fosse voting against and Tuohy, Schwab, Zarlingo and Stonecipher voting in favor.

Here’s the link to the ordinance. (above amendments to be added)


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