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Sat., Feb. 1, 2014

Seeking effective justice

Donald Brockett’s Jan. 19 opinion compels a response.

The report of the Spokane Regional Justice Commission does not advocate coddling criminals. Repeatedly, the report recommends the implementation of evidence-based practices - those that are proven to be effective.

In some cases, that will mean jail. In other cases, that will mean alternatives to jail. The report recommends the development of valid, reliable assessments to assist prosecutors, courts and correction officers in deciding the appropriate path for individual defendants. While jail serves an important public safety function, the evidence is that its deterrent effect is small, that it disrupts employment and can serve to worsen recidivism through criminal networking.

An offender-based system is efficient, and it works. These have been proven to work in other jurisdictions, most notably in the Spokane County Juvenile Court.

The implementation of these recommendations is the responsibility of our elected officials, and the system must be nimble enough to respond to fast-moving changes that affect the entire system.

The system must be authoritative enough to coordinate the different and often antagonistic silos that compromise the system.

Finally, the system must be expert enough to absorb and implement the latest research and the most effective practices.

We have not accomplished these goals in the past. Our elected leaders have displayed courage and resolve in facing these challenges. If Brockett or other critics have knowledge of a practice with proven effectiveness, they should seek its implementation through the Regional Justice Commission.

Phillip Wetzel, James McDevitt, James Murphy

Spokane Regional Justice Commission

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