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Progressive Group Says Poll Shows Majority Of Voters Don't Support New Tax For Jail

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A progressive Washington group is touting a new poll of people’s attitudes about criminal justice in Spokane. Fuse Washington’s survey asked residents whether they would support a two-tenths-of-a-cent sales tax increase to fund construction of a new Spokane County jail.

The poll says only 40% of the 500 respondents would support paying more sales tax for a 1,200 bed jail. Conversely, 58% would rather that money go toward measures that reduce the jail’s population, says Jim Dawson, Fuse Washington’s program director in Spokane.

“That’s where voters are at. They want to invest in upstream solutions that really break the cycle of recidivism and cycling through homelessness and crisis and help get into a stable place and have the basics that they need to meet their full potential," he said.

A work group that included the county commissioners and members of the criminal justice system endorsed efforts to make changes to the system to try to reduce the number of incarcerated people. Some of those changes have been made.

Kurtis Robinson, the executive director of the Revive Center for Returning Citizens and I Did The Time, says he’s encouraged by the poll results.

“This leaves us in a very hopeful perspective about some of the long-term change that we’ve been looking to effect here in Spokane. I think it speaks good of the rising spirit of awareness and care for our fellow human beings here locally," he said.

No concrete plan for a new jail has yet been proposed to the public. Spokane County Commissioner Al French and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich are among those who have expressed support for a new facility to replace the current jail that many now consider inadequate.