Free festivals are favorite hangouts for convicted drug dealers, sex offenders and homeless felons on probation, Leslie
Mills, a supervisor for the Washington State Department of Corrections tells the Seattle Times. Seattle’s major public events often draw felons who are wanted for violating terms of their prison release or who are violating probation merely by being there. At Seattle’s Torchlight Parade last weekend, Mills and other officials arrested 25 people in connection with outstanding warrants or for committing new crimes. “A lot of felony offenders and probationers are opportunists,” said Mills. She said public festivals “provide opportunities for people to sell drugs, buy drugs and commit crimes. It’s a party where you can get lost because there are tons and tons of people.”
Corrections officers and police who monitor the events question panhandlers or people weaving through the crowd reeking of alcohol, and watch closely for people using drugs. Mills said arrested felons are taken to jail or briefly detained, then told to check in with their probation officer in the following days. The effort is part of the corrections department’s Neighborhood Corrections Initiative program, created in 1997, as a way to monitor felons assigned to community custody, Washington state’s version of probation and parole.