The local race for Spokane county prosecutor includes a man who has worked as a lawyer for the past 24 years, and says it’s time serious reforms of the system takes place. Breann Beggs says it’s time the status quo in the county justice system be shaken up.
He points to the fact that 74 percent for the county budget is spent on criminal justice, and says there are savings to be had by practicing what he calls “Smart Justice”, a plan that seeks to keep nonviolent criminals out of jail, and rehabilitates them in the community.
He believes many offenders can be helped by attending drug or mental health courts, where they will be sent into programs , rather than jail, that can help turn their lives around. Beggs is opposed to the idea of spending money for a new jail. He says only 17 percent of the people in jail are serving time after a conviction, as opposed to the other 83 percent.
Beggs: "The main reason they’re there is they missed a hearing and the court doesn’t trust them to come back. So leave them in jail. A lot could be at home with a monitoring bracelet, and you save 100 bucks a day at least on that.”
Beggs may be best known for representing the family of Otto Zehm, a man beaten to death at the hands of Spokane Police. But does not want people to think that snapshot of his career tells the whole story.
Beggs: “What I've been working on the last 23 years is victims of crimes. I have been representing them to get compensation for being sexually molested, for being assaulted, families who have lost people to drunk drivers. So I am hard on crime, and take it seriously, I represent actual victims, not just the community, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Beggs has been a staunch advocate of independent oversight of the Spokane Police Department. He says he has his own plan of how that can be achieved in a case of police involvement in a shooting death.
Beggs: “My proposal is there is a law that says the county prosecutor can call in the attorney general's office anytime there is a law enforcement type of shooting, and let them decide where there is criminal conduct. And I think everyone would sleep better. It’s independent, hopefully it would be done quickly, investigated officers can get back to work, and the families of victims would know it had been robustly investigated.”
Beggs will be facing off against current Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell.