Spokane County, WA

Summary

Spokane County in Eastern Washington is the home of Spokane, the state’s second-largest city and a center of business and trade for a vast area east of the Cascade Mountains. The county has experienced roughly a 40% increase in population since 1981.

Guided by the recommendations in the City and County-commissioned “Blueprint for Reform,” regional stakeholders have been working together to reform the local justice system since 2012. These efforts were further supported through the Safety and Justice Challenge Network and grant funding, first awarded to Spokane in 2015. Today, the Office of the Law and Justice Administrator manages ongoing reform efforts and works closely with City and County criminal justice offices, judges, law enforcement, and community members.  In recognition of the progress and promise of work to date, Spokane County was awarded an additional $1.9 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2019 to invest in strategies that will continue to responsibly reduce the average daily jail population over the next two years.

The long-term vision behind the region’s reform plan is to create a local justice system that serves all of Spokane’s residents fairly, equitably, and efficiently. These efforts will utilize multiple strategies designed to move Spokane toward evidence-based pretrial practices, increase diversion opportunities, and improve data collection and sharing to increase accountability and transparency with stakeholders and engage community members impacted by incarceration to support and guide reform initiatives.

  • In Spokane County, the jail’s average daily population has increased significantly since 2000, operating at “critical status” almost on a daily basis. In November 2018, the average daily population was 919.
  • People of color are disparately impacted by the local criminal justice system. For example, in Spokane County, the average length of stay in October 2018 was 18 days. Yet for African Americans, the average length of stay that same month was 21 days; for Native Americans, 24 days; and for Latinos and Hispanics, 24 days.
  • Undertaking efforts across Municipal, District, and Superior Courts to ensure that case processing, or the manner in which a case moves through the legal system from arrest to resolution, follows best practices set by national experts and State standards.
  • Adopting the Public Safety Assessment to support judges releasing individuals better served to await trial in the community;
  • Launching a Pre-filing Diversion pilot and expanding the existing mental health diversion program
  • Hiring a data analyst to track, measure, and analyze performance in our reform efforts. The resulting data will be shared with systems stakeholders to inform and improve reform efforts and will also be made publicly available.
  • Implementing a supplemental Community Engagement Grant, which will facilitate dialogue between community members and systems professionals.  It will also establish a peer navigator training program that will certify formerly incarcerated individuals to provide mentorship and support to individuals presently navigating the criminal justice system.
  • Supported with an additional $1.9 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge, Spokane County will aim to safely reduce its jail population by 15% over the next two years.

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