by Dom Felix
The Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) released its report “Blueprint for Reform” January 10th 2014. Many of the Smart Justice Campaign’s policy recommendations are in the CJC’s report–ideas like moving to an evidence-based criminal justice system, creating a Disproportionate Minority Contact Workgroup to address racial disparities, building culturally appropriate programs and support service for offenders, reforming the system to be offender-centered rather than offence-centered, and delaying the building of a new jail or increasing jail capacity until after alternatives and new practices are implemented and evaluated.
This is a great success for the Smart Justice Campaign. These recommendations have the power to improve our criminal justice system and save money at the same time.
In many ways the battle has just begun. These are, after all, just recommendations. It will take a lot of work to actually implement these ideas.
The Mayor and Commissioner Mielke say they are committed to the formation of a regional criminal justice system. The CJC recommended an independent governing structure, the Regional JusticeCommission, should be formed and the Smart Justice Campaign urges elected officials to immediately form that commission.
Public involvement will be a crucial part of implementing Smart Justice ideas. “The Smart Justice Campaign encourages the City and the County to include members of the public on the planning team as well as other structures and bodies that are created to implement the recommended reforms,” said Julie Schaffer of the Center for Justice. This will be a great opportunity for our community to be a part of needed change, but only if we work to include our community, especially communities of color, in the process.
For more information, contact Dom at [email protected] or 838-7870.