On May 6, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to create a Law and Justice Council to coordinate a regional criminal justice system. The Spokesman Review article about the vote is here. Both the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission’s Blueprint for Reform and our Smart Justice Campaign recommended creating a Law and Justice Council, so this is a step forward.

Now, the County Commissioners need to hear from you! This is an important time to thank them and share your support for Smart Justice Campaign recommendations going forward.

The success of the Law and Justice Council is going to ride on the make up of the Law and Justice Council, AND on the engagement of the public in informing the Council’s work with stories and expertise, and holding our elected officials accountable to make sure that the Council’s top priority is implementing smart justice.

Will you take a minute to contact the Spokane County Board of Commissioners? Please thank them for their leadership in creating the Law and Justice Council, and make the following four recommendations:

1. Add two community member positions on the Law and Justice Council to increase transparency, and bring a different voice and expertise to the Council, especially from communities most affected by the criminal justice system (e.g. people of color, ex-offenders and family members, and others).

2. Add both a city and county labor representative to the Council as there will be enormous considerations in that area.

3. Increase Spokane City representatives: Include a Spokane Municipal Court Judge, City of Spokane Prosecutor, City of Spokane Public Defender, and Spokane Police Department representative in addition to the general seats open to any municipality in the County.

4. Recommend the creation of these subcommittees: Racial Disproportionality; Mental Health; Restorative Justice, Alternative to Incarceration and Diversion; Technology and Facilities; and Risk/Needs Assessment.

Contact the Spokane County Commissioners at 477-2265 or by email:

[email protected], [email protected] shellyoquinn.com, [email protected] org. If you receive a response, would you share it to [email protected]?

The Smart Justice Campaign provided initial input & has continued to advocate for the inclusion of community members on the Council, especially those from impacted communities. With only last minute notice about the Commissioners’ vote on the resolution, the Smart Justice Campaign sent a letter to the County Commissioners. Our letter expressed support for the creation of the Law and Justice Council as well as disappointment that there wasn’t an opportunity for public testimony. We provided specific recommendations for additional members of the Law and Justice Council and suggestions for subcommittees to implement smart justice.

In addition to the creation of the Law and Justice Council, the County and the City have approved a contract to hire Dr. Jacqueline Van Wormer, with WSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, as Project Manager/Facilitator for the Law and Justice Council. Dr. Van Wormer will be able to use her experience and connections from around the country to share proven tools and programs with the Law and Justice Council as they develop the structure to implement criminal justice reforms.

Save the Date: The Smart Justice Campaign “Social & Action Gathering” will be on Tuesday, June 26th in the evening at the Global Credit Union.