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Wed., Jan. 29, 2014

Brockett’s dogma tired

Don Brockett’s (Jan. 19) tired dogma of punishment and retribution seems unsupported in practice. Incarceration is not a good deterrent, not corrective, and not economically sensible. Scientific studies of alternative programs across the country show smart justice outcomes are better and cheaper for many types of defendants.

The Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission’s recommendations, such as early assessment for every offender, specialized courts, expanded home monitoring and diversion of low-risk offenders, are sensible ideas proven effective in other cities. I was impressed by my visit to the Vet Court, and understand that only two in 600 cases have reoffended. “Eliminating the victim’s need for revenge” is a pitiful justice, given that 60 percent to 65 percent of Spokane inmates have substance and/or mental health issues.

This is a simple premise: Distinguish offenders who need help from those who need lockup, then treat the categories differently, with proven remedies. With a system like that, overall costs will be lower, recidivism will decline, and the current jail will be enough.

Many compassionate recommendations are on the table, and many influential local law enforcement and court professionals are on-board already. They may not all advance, but each deserves broad discussion and further fact-finding.

John Hancock


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