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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County law and justice council will start up again

Spokane County used to have a law and justice council that was supposed to work on improving the criminal justice system. The group was formed in 1992 and was made up of representatives from law enforcement, the courts and other parts of the system.

WSU instructor will head Spokane criminal justice reform efforts

Spokane County and city officials will hire a Washington State University assistant professor with expertise in criminal justice to lead the initial implementation of criminal justice reforms recommended by a blue-ribbon panel last winter. Jackie van Wormer is expected to be hired under a $26,000 yearlong contract to serve as project manager for instituting recommendations in the 60-page report by the three-member panel.

Spokane Community Court offers chronic offenders another chance

When Aubrey Shults landed in jail in January, it was the end of a long, sad slide. Her longtime boyfriend had left her, and Shults – a drug-addicted 38-year-old who has lived on Spokane’s streets since she was 14 – descended into a blizzard of self-destruction.

Geiger using reinstated electronic home monitoring program

Geiger Corrections Center on Thursday released its first inmate on a newly reinstated electronic home monitoring program intended to reduce costs of incarceration to taxpayers. The new monitoring program will be combined with a more sophisticated risk assessment and other in-house treatment programs to help offenders transition to productive lives.

Condon, Mielke back Regional Justice Commission proposal

Local officials are backing a key recommendation coming out of a yearlong study of the region’s criminal justice system: creating a Regional Justice Commission with a paid, professional administrator to oversee reforms. Spokane Mayor David Condon and Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke on Friday said they are moving ahead with criminal justice reforms recommended by the experts who conducted the study.

Spokane justice commission report complete

Now that the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission has completed its yearlong report, top officials at Spokane County and Spokane City Hall are getting ready to sit down and decide which of its numerous recommendations to tackle first. County Commissioner Todd Mielke said he is going to meet with Mayor David Condon and members of the commission Friday to talk about the next steps.

Shawn Vestal: Merging city, county courts an idea whose time has come again

A former judge, former federal prosecutor and longtime local attorney have taken a close look at the region’s criminal justice system. The trio – dubbed the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission – spent hours interviewing people in every phase of the system, from city courts to county courts to the jail. They scoured for problems and solutions. They praised programs they found effective and suggested a wide-ranging list of steps that might improve efficiency, reduce the expensive and ineffective warehousing of inmates in the overcrowded jail, and apply creative, evidence-based solutions to the way we dispense justice.

Spokane criminal justice reform ideas met with praise

Criminal justice reform ideas for Spokane drew positive reviews Wednesday evening from people knowledgeable about the system. The Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission last week released 58 pages of draft recommendations calling for sweeping changes focused largely on moving nonviolent offenders into alternatives to incarceration.

Spokane County commissioners extend mental health services tax

A tenth of a penny sales tax that pays for local mental health and criminal justice services was extended through 2019 by Spokane County commissioners on Tuesday. Commissioners Todd Mielke and Shelly O’Quinn voted in favor of the extension. Commissioner Al French was away on other county business.

Prison psychologist earns award for ‘innovative’ programs

WALLA WALLA – Tamara Russell has found the old saying to be true: Big things do come in small packages. In Russell’s universe at Washington State Penitentiary, tiny has proved mighty for prisoners living with mental illness. So much so that Russell was recently named Outstanding Clinician for 2013 by the American Psychological Association.

Spokane needs better tack with repeat offenders

On Sunday, police arrested Christopher Cannata on suspicion of car theft. It was the first time Cannata had been arrested since May. Which was the first time he’d been arrested since March. Which was the first time he’d been arrested since February.

Smart Justice seeks Spokane criminal justice reform

A group pushing for criminal justice reform in Spokane called for moving tax money from pretrial lockup to programs that help offenders turn their lives around. Smart Justice leaders outlined their recommendations Monday to the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission, a panel appointed last fall to come up with solutions to escalating crime and jail crowding.

Report: Justice reforms working

Spokane County in the past five years has made progress in reforming its criminal justice system, but there is still a lot of work to do to reduce costs and get offenders to change their ways, a consultant said Tuesday. David Bennett, a Park City, Utah, consultant hired by the county several years ago to help guide reforms in Spokane, urged county commissioners and others to continue to work on improvements.

Spokane jail population can be reduced safely, group says

Far more people are being sent to jail than necessary in Spokane, according to a community coalition for criminal justice reform. Smart Justice Spokane wants to divert more low-level offenders into programs that will help them get out of trouble and build productive lives.