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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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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.

Panel explains its approach to criminal justice reform

A hundred people turned out on Thursday to hear emerging plans for reform of Spokane’s criminal justice system. They were law officers, prosecutors, judges, defenders, attorneys and others involved in the multimillion dollar system of keeping crime in check.

Faith Action Network to host annual legislative conference

The theme for this year’s Eastern Washington Legislative Conference is money: grace and justice. The daylong convention on Saturday features sessions on wage theft, criminal justice reform, the death penalty, environmental issues, immigration and human services. The annual conference is organized by the Faith Action Network.

Justice reform study starts as city, county look into combining services

Spokane city and county leaders on Wednesday announced the latest step in a proposal to consolidate the region’s criminal justice system. Mayor David Condon and Spokane County Commissioners Todd Mielke and Mark Richard all support the idea, which would look to combine the jail, courts, prosecution, public defenders and probation – everything except law enforcement, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.

State grants Straub training waiver

BURIEN, Wash. – Spokane’s new director of law enforcement will not have to attend a five-month police academy to become a commissioned officer in Washington. The state Criminal Justice Training Commission on Wednesday granted Spokane city officials’ request for a waiver, ruling instead that Frank Straub can take a nine-week online course starting in January. That course focuses on differences in Washington’s laws and procedures and is essentially designed for out-of-state officers transferring to a job in this state.

City, county to seek jail system savings

The Spokane City Council on Monday joined the county in a wide-ranging effort to reform the local criminal justice system to save money. An agreement unanimously approved by the council postpones a city plan to send up to 50 inmates to Benton County, a move that could save the city up to $1 million annually.

County agrees to jail reforms

Spokane County Commissioners and the city of Spokane appear to have reached a deal on keeping city inmates in the county jail system for now and working on reforms to reduce costs for criminals. The commissioners on Tuesday approved a new agreement promising cost-saving reforms by Dec. 15, in time for budget reductions for 2013.

Speakers: Bigger jail may not be needed

A Seattle University law professor told Spokane’s Rotary Club 21 on Thursday that Spokane County’s new jail needs to be only as big as its legal policies. Robert Boruchowitz told the Rotarians that the current $200 million plan for a new jail is not needed if local prosecutors and law enforcement embrace treatment alternatives.