Why We Need Smart Justice in Spokane

Communities of color, those living in poverty, and our neighbors with mental illness, addiction, and disabilities are hardest hit by the criminal justice system. Now, too many non-violent people and those needing treatment end up jailed —even though jail is proven to be the most expensive and least effective way to reduce crime or change behavior. These institutional responses divide our families and stifle economic opportunity and growth. It doesn’t have to be this way and we are working together to find real solutions.

We need smart justice in Spokane because:

  • 70% of Spokane County’s $140 million budget is spent on the criminal justice system; we pay $126 every day to house each inmate (source)
  • Over 50% of the people in jail are detained for non-violent charges or offenses (Spokane County Jail, 2014)
  • 50% of the people in jail are detained pretrial and therefore presumed innocent (Spokane County Jail, 2014)
  • African Americans make up 12% of the jail population but only 2% of Spokane County (2014)
  • Native Americans make up 7% of the jail population but only 1% of Spokane County (2014)
  • Latinos make up 5% of the jail and Spokane County population. (2014)
  • Whites make up 67% of the jail and 86% of Spokane County.(2014)
  • On average, African Americans stayed in jail 25 days, Latino/Hispanics stay 22 days, and Native Americans stay 21 days, compared to 17 days for whites (2014)
  • The arrest rate for black adults in 2012 was about six times that of whites, and the rate for Native Americans was five times that of whites. (Community Indicators Project, Eastern Washington University, Winter 2013)
  • It is estimated that around 80% of people jailed have substance abuse and/or mental health issues
  • It is estimated that 80% of the jail population is unemployed at booking

Smart justice means finding solutions like…

  • Spending our tax dollars on cost-effective, research-based smart justice reforms, which foster racial equity and opportunities for recovery and integration.
  • Ending the costly impacts of racial, economic, and other social disparities and changing peoples’ lives so they can get out of the cycle of crime permanently.
  • Preserving costly jail beds for high-risk offenders who pose a danger to our community.
  • Pursuing procedural justice and better results for both victims and offenders.

 This is smart justice, and Spokane deserves it!