If someone walks out with a handful of groceries from the corner market or steals power tools with the intent of reselling them online in order to pay for a basic need like food or rent, the city of Seattle may be OK with that.
The idea, referred to as the poverty defense, was discussed Tuesday by the Seattle City Council's Public Safety Committee after it was introduced by City Council member Lisa Herbold and Anita Khandelwal, the King County’s director of the Department of Public Defense.
During the committee meeting, council members heard an update to the poverty defense argument, which was first presented by Herbold, chairperson of the committee, in October. The council took no action on the proposal on Tuesday but its members are expected to discuss the proposal again in January, KOMO News reports.
The new twist is that Herbold wants the new legal defense to be added to the Seattle municipal code. It would provide an affirmative defense for someone who committed a crime because they need to meet a basic need to survive.
Critics of the plan suggested that it could lead to more criminal offenses.
“It’s a green light for crime,” said Scott Lindsay, a former mayoral Public Safety Advisor who unsuccessfully ran for city attorney.