Spokane County prosecuting attorney candidates were allowed 50 words to respond to each of five questions. Their responses are listed in the order the candidates appear on the ballot.
Why are you running for county prosecutor?
Larry Haskell: With over 13 years experience, I know what we must do to increase public trust and our visibility in the community, implement the Blueprint for Reform, hold offenders accountable, stimulate legislative reforms, make victims whole and increase public safety.
Breean Beggs: I am running for prosecutor because I believe that I can lead the county in reducing crime at a lower cost to taxpayers while restoring public trust in law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office.
How do you intend to address the overcrowding problem at the Spokane County Jail?
Haskell: Where possible and commensurate with public safety, I will use assessment tools to increase use of pre-trial release with conditions, use Electronic Home Monitoring as technology improvements are made and expand Early Case Resolution to reduce the jail population.
Beggs: In the short term I would reduce jail overcrowding by using electronic home monitoring for the 50 percent of jail inmates who the jail commander says are nonviolent and only there waiting for a hearing. Long term, implementing Smart Justice programs will significantly reduce the number of people committing crimes.
Which category of crime (e.g. property, drug, gang) do you believe most requires the attention of the prosecutor’s office in Spokane?
Haskell: Since a primary duty is to protect the public, victim crimes deserve the highest attention. However, prosecuting all categories of crime must be enforced to statutory standards and repeat offenders must be treated and/or prosecuted with some level of priority as they represent a large draw on local resources.
Beggs: The best approach for a prosecutor is to focus on the offender in order to reduce crime, and the most problematic offenders currently are those suffering mental illness and substance abuse. They are also driving the repeat property crimes that are the biggest current criminal law problem here in Spokane.
Much has been made of alternative resolution options for certain cases in the Spokane County court system. Is there more the county can do to offer services akin to the early case resolution (ECR) and drug courts already in place in Superior Court?
Haskell: The Blueprint for Reform outlines the expansion of therapeutic courts, ECR and legislative options but only after rigorous and ongoing evaluations of each. I will use these options when properly evaluated to protect the public and make the most effective use of our resources
Beggs: Problem-solving courts in Spokane are a huge success in saving money and reducing crime – with re-offense rates under 20 percent compared to 50-60 percent for regular courts. The prosecutor’s office can and should lead the effort in substantially expanding participation of offenders in Drug, Veterans, Mental Health and similar courts.
There’s more online.
Go to www.spokesman.com/elections to read what these candidates say about their experience and to read other stories about the race for prosecutor.
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