Minority Groups Jailed At Greater Rates Than Whites In Spokane County

Jul 31, 2019

Sabrina Ryan-Helton (left) from the Bail Project listens during Wednesday's meeting of a citizens group that will make recommendations about a new jail to Spokane County Commissioners next year.
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A criminal justice research group says Spokane County is jailing African and Native Americans at much higher rates than whites.

That was one of the takeaways from jail data presented today [Wednesday] by Wendy Ware from the JFA Institute. She’s analyzing Spokane County jail statistics as she writes a forecast for how many people the county can expect to incarcerate during the next 10 years.

Ware says blacks are jailed at 13 times the rate of whites. The Native American rate is six-and-a-half times greater and Latinos at one-and-a-half times. Her analysis shows blacks spend an average of 27 days behind bars before their initial release, Latinos 25 days, Native Americans 20 days and whites 15 days.

Ware presented her findings to a group of Spokane civic leaders who will advise the county commissioners on a new jail proposal.

"We’ll produce a forecast disaggregated by a number of different groups, by gender, usually by pre-trial versus your sentenced population, which we talked a lot about today," Ware said. "It will also produce it by those key groups, FTA, gross misdemeanor, the drug possession that we talked about, so that you can see what the makeup of the jail population is going to be.”

FTA stands for failure to appear. Many people are jailed for not appearing for scheduled court dates.

Ware will be back in a couple months to present her final report. That community group is expected to develop its own recommendations for county commissioners by early next year.