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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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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.

Lawyer to assess charging process

A longtime Florida prosecutor will visit the Spokane County prosecutor’s office next month to look for ways to speed up charging decisions. Criminal justice consultant David Bennett said Wednesday that attorney Randy McGruther will conduct the study May 3-5.

Tucker tepid about office review

Prosecutor Steve Tucker doesn’t know the guy’s name or where he’s from, but he’s hoping that the “professional prosecutor” found by a consultant can help Spokane County solve a worsening problem of releasing crime suspects back into the community because his office is unable to file necessary paperwork. “I’m not too much in favor of hiring more consultants,” Tucker said. “That money could be used hiring attorneys back and getting them back to work here.”

Deadlines bedevil Spokane County prosecutor’s office

Efforts to reduce Spokane County’s jail needs through swift justice have hit a “significant roadblock” in the prosecutor’s office, commissioners were told Tuesday. Once again, jail consultant David Bennett told commissioners, the prosecutor’s office is regularly failing to file formal charges within 72 hours.

Fast justice is best for small-time offenders

In many people’s minds, an ideal criminal justice system is one that locks lawbreakers up for as long as possible and makes them miserable in the meantime. In some hard-core cases, that’s a pretty good plan.

Minorities overrepresented among felony convictions

With the presidential election sparking a renewed discussion of race, local officials struggle to explain why minorities in Spokane County face higher conviction rates than white residents. Statistics show that in Spokane County this year, black residents are eight times more likely to be convicted of a felony than a member of the 92-percent white majority.