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Thursday, December 5, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Stories tagged: criminal justice


UPDATED: Fri., Aug. 2, 2019

Shawn Vestal: Explanations for letting man accused of ‘child torture’ off the hook aren’t a good excuse

Despite an explanation of the decision not the press charges against a man who has an extensive history of credible reports of abusing his three children, it remains inexplicable how …


UPDATED: Tue., July 23, 2019

Spokane County asks voters to renew sales tax to maintain criminal justice system

Spokane County leaders are asking voters to renew a $6 million-a-year sales tax that the region has approved twice before to maintain the criminal justice status quo.


Keeping people out of crisis: Unit combines law enforcement, mental health worker

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office’s Community Diversion Unit works to divert people experiencing mental health crises away from the hospital or jail.


Spokane County seeking volunteer for civil service commission

Spokane County is seeking a volunteer to fill a vacancy on its civil service commission, which is responsible for reviewing the job performance of law enforcement.


UPDATED: Mon., May 20, 2019

Among Washington’s largest counties, Spokane County has the largest rate of drug felonies – and it’s not even close

Unlike most of Washington’s larger counties that have moved toward decriminalizing felony drug possession in conjunction with diversion programs aimed at swapping jail cells for robust drug and mental health …


Few pot convictions thrown out in Spokane, as Washington state considers similar amnesty law

The Spokane City Council passed a measure at the end of 2015 that would allow those with misdemeanor marijuana convictions to petition the court for their record to be cleared. …


UPDATED: Thu., March 7, 2019

Auditors: Washington jails could release 4,700 inmates, save millions through pretrial services

The state auditor’s office found roughly one-third of Washington’s jail inmates are candidates for pretrial services such as electronic monitoring, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and texts and phone …


MacArthur Foundation grants another $1.9 million for criminal justice reform in Spokane County

The funding comes in addition to another $1.9 million that the foundation awarded to the county in 2015 and 2016 as part of its Safety and Justice Challenge.


UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 20, 2019

After setbacks, Spokane County abandons custom criminal justice algorithm in favor of simpler tool

The Spokane Assessment for Evaluation of Risk, known as the SAFER tool, was touted as a cornerstone of local efforts to reduce jail overcrowding and eliminate racial disparities in the …


UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 18, 2018

Senate overwhelmingly passes criminal justice overhaul

The Senate passed a sweeping criminal justice bill Tuesday that addresses concerns that the nation’s war on drugs had led to the imprisonment of too many Americans for non-violent crimes …


UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 15, 2018

In televised debate with Dave Wilson, House candidate Jenny Graham says death penalty not racially disproportionate

In a debate with Democrat Dave Wilson, Republican Jenny Graham correctly said there were more white people than black people on death row and that she supported maintaining the death …


County judge candidates meet questions from Spokane Bar Association

Four candidates hoping to fill two county judge positions faced Spokane County Bar Association members Friday afternoon at the organization’s first forum of the 2018 election season.


UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 29, 2018

Justice Mary Yu shares her story, offers students inspiration at Gonzaga School of Law breakfast

Speaking to a small group of law students, undergraduates from Gonzaga and Eastern Washington University and Spokane-are high schoolers Saturday morning, Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu shared her story …


With new text reminders, Spokane County criminal justice officials hope to curtail rise in jail population

While county officials wrestle with how best to lower the jail population with the help of a $1.75 million grant, a new system that sends defendants text reminders for upcoming …


UPDATED: Mon., July 16, 2018

A year after new effort to decrease Spokane County jail population, more inmates were behind bars

Spokane County has hired a new criminal justice administrator to oversee reforms aimed at reducing the county’s jail population and racial disparities. Data from the reform effort so far makes …


McMorris Rodgers tells local officials House-passed prison reform bill ‘a step’ to address overcrowding

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers told a roundtable of local officials Wednesday that a federal prison reform bill passed by Congress last week was “an idea whose time has come.”


Shawn Vestal: Between officials and reformers, a growing rift in efforts to improve Spokane’s criminal justice system

We have plenty to be proud of in the city’s push towards a fairer criminal justice system. But two years after receiving an award from the MacArthur Foundation, a significant …


Meek Mill to focus on criminal justice system in six-part Amazon Prime docuseries

Philly rapper Meek Mill’s experience with the criminal justice system over the past decade will be the focus of an upcoming six-part documentary series from Amazon Prime, Amazon Studios announced …


UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 22, 2018

Spokane County ex-public defender accused of meth use represented hundreds of clients

From the moment Emily Blumenauer met her court-appointed public defender, she knew something was off. There was the arm scratching, the forgetfulness, the shiny glaze on her eyes that suggested …


UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 27, 2017

Spokane City Council votes to ‘ban the box’ for private employers, fines delayed one year

A five-vote supermajority of the Spokane City Council voted Monday night to “ban the box” and potentially impose fines on noncompliant businesses beginning in 2019. The law will take effect …


UPDATED: Sat., June 24, 2017

As groups chafe at pace of criminal justice reform, county administrator points to progress

It’s been a year since Spokane County was awarded a $1.75 million MacArthur Foundation grant to reduce its jail population. And while little has visibly changed since then, Jacqueline van …


Wisconsin Gov. Walker says he won’t remove sheriff over inmate’s dehydration death

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that he won’t remove Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke from office over the death of an inmate who was denied water for seven days.


UPDATED: Thu., April 20, 2017

Shawn Vestal: Legalizing marijuana a no-brainer

There are a lot of reasons to celebrate the fact that Washington ended the costly, counterproductive and racist war on marijuana.


UPDATED: Sat., April 15, 2017

Man wrongly convicted in 1957 killing files federal lawsuit

A Washington state man wrongly convicted in the 1957 kidnapping and killing of a 7-year-old girl has filed a federal lawsuit in Illinois.


U.K. to pardon thousands convicted under past anti-gay laws

Thousands of men who were convicted under now-abolished British laws against homosexuality are to receive posthumous pardons, the government announced Thursday. Those who are still alive can will be eligible …


Spokane County District Court can get by with fewer judges, county commissioners say

With fewer cases moving through Spokane County District Court, county commissioners say there’s no need to replace retiring Judge Sara Derr.


Spokane County Jail receives an additional $1.75 million from MacArthur Foundation to reduce overcrowding

Criminal Justice Adminstrator Jacqueline van Wormer informed stakeholders at the city and county level Wednesday afternoon the national nonprofit had selected Spokane County as one of 11 sites to receive …


GOP Congress being labeled with do-nothing moniker

Congress increasingly is being defined by what it’s not doing this election year.


Spokane parents get alternative to jail, but victims feel slighted

Bryan Morales and Amanda Macklin have received reprieves from jail to care for their young children as part of a sentencing alternative heralded by criminal justice reformers. But victims worry …


WSU Spokane professor picked to provide new criminal risk assessment tool

Zach Hamilton, a professor at WSU Spokane in criminology, will help develop a customized tool for the region to determine who should be in the overcrowded Spokane County Jail and …