criminal justice

Rebecca White/SPR

The group of community members and public officials who have been meeting for seven years to push for criminal justice reform in Spokane County met for what is likely the last time Wednesday.

During that meeting, many members expressed frustration, saying they’re concerned the new group will not focus on racial equity and have less community input.

Natalie Newcomb

Spokane city leaders are urging community members to keep their response to the verdict in the George Floyd trial peaceful, and respectful.

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder for kneeling on the neck of a black man for nine minutes. That murder sparked a wave of protests across the nation, including several in Spokane last summer.

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Every Sheriff’s Deputy in Spokane County will soon have a body worn camera, a purchase law enforcement and public officials say will make policing more transparent.

On Tuesday Spokane Valley City Council unanimously voted to divide the cost of purchasing body worn cameras with the county. That vote means the Sheriff’s Office has the funds to equip every deputy with a camera by the end of this year.

“This is a tool that will serve as good insurance for our office, to be able to protect them and highlight the good work that they’re doing.”

Spokane County Sheriff Deputies To Equip Body Cameras

Mar 29, 2021
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Every sheriff’s deputy in Spokane County could soon be equipped with body cameras by the end of this year.

The Spokane Police Department has had body cameras for years, along with Lincoln County, which borders Spokane County. Leaders in Spokane County had previously hesitated when asked to purchase them, over concerns about how much it could cost the county to respond to public records requests.

Idaho Corrections

The man convicted of killing a Kootenai County family and a child in California has died while awaiting execution.

The Prosecutors Office in Riverside County, California confirmed Joseph E. Duncan died on Sunday. Duncan had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and according to court documents filed in January, he had less than six months to live. He was sentenced to death in 2005.

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has determined that a corrections’ officer's use of lethal force against a 70-year-old woman last December was justified.

According to a news release, Sgt. Justin White shot Nancy King after King allegedly pulled a knife and tried to force her way into the jail lobby. The release says White ordered her to drop the weapon before he shot, and she continued to walk toward him.

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A Spokane County Sheriff Deputy is on administrative leave after a confrontation that left a Chattaroy landowner in the hospital.

According to a press release from the Sheriff’s office, the landowner called law enforcement after discovering a theft on his property. After calling the sheriff’s office, he went to his property to secure it, and was armed. According to the release, the Sheriff’s Office was not informed that he had returned.

IDOC Booking photo

The man convicted of killing a Kootenai County family and abducting their children may never face the death penalty.

Joseph E. Duncan has been on death row for more than a decade, but may not survive to his execution date. Duncan, according to court filings, has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane City Council unanimously approved a 5-year police contract that will give police officers raises and remove barriers to civilian oversight.

City Council Members and Mayor Nadine Woodward have praised the contract, saying it complies with a city charter amendment passed in 2013. The charter required the city to allow a police ombudsman to independently investigate potential police conduct and publish reports on his findings.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

After four years of negotiating the city of Spokane is set to adopt a new police contract on Monday.

The contract has garnered praise from most city leaders, but some fear it still gives the Spokane Police Guild too much power over the office voters approved to oversee police misconduct.  

Courtesy of Spokane County

Spokane County Jail staff have asked for a $32 million temporary jail to replace an aging facility near the airport they argue is near the end of its usable life.

The Geiger Jail facility is a 50-year-old former military base which can handle around 300 inmates. Spokane County Detention Services Director Mike Sparber said it has serious sewage and infrastructure problems that could cost millions to fix.

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

The Spokane region was awarded a $700,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation this week to invest in programs that reduce overincarceration in the Spokane County Jail.

Today on Inland Journal and the Inland Journal podcast, WSU researchers say people of color and who live in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to die prematurely than those who live in more affluent places.

“Some of it we can attribute to things like housing quality. We know that housing, we don’t think of that as a health intervention, but actually having poor quality housing is one of the biggest risk factors to developing all kinds of long-term chronic disease conditions.”

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A Spokane community group is moving forward with developing recommendations for a new county criminal justice center. Those recommendations will include ideas for a new physical space to replace or supplement the current jail.

Spokane’s Justice Task Force includes county commissioners, representatives from the city of Spokane, from law enforcement and the court system and others involved in criminal justice.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Today on the Inland Journal podcast, we’ll talk with two of the three authors of a 2013 review of the Spokane County criminal justice system. We’ll look at where progress has been made as community leaders ponder, yet again, whether to build a new jail.

Some of the recommendations from that Blueprint for Reform have been implemented; some haven’t.

Here to talk about that are retired Superior Court Judge Jim Murphy and attorney Phillip “Dutch” Wetzel.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Today on Inland Journal, we’ve spent two programs during the last month talking with the candidates for Spokane mayor. Now we talk with the man they’re hoping to replace.

With five months to go in his administration, David Condon is still moving ahead on a variety of issues, including homelessness. For example, the city is planning to buy a building to renovate for a homeless shelter in east Spokane, near the city’s border with Spokane Valley.

But we asked him about something else: a city proposal to create its own facilities to handle people charged with misdemeanor crimes.

Spokane County has another big check in the mail from the MacArthur Foundation — that’s the same organization that periodically awards genius grants. The foundation is sending another $1.9 million to Spokane County. That’s on top of a $1.7 million award in 2016.

Al French

The biggest chunk of the Spokane County budget, about three-fourths, goes for criminal justice. Your tax money pays to put deputies on the streets, for detectives who investigate crimes, for jailers and nurses to oversee inmates in the jail, for the prosecutors, public defenders and judges who try cases in the courts.

Spokane County Commissioner Al French says the criminal justice budget is relatively stable. Yet there are still significant challenges. The jail population is about double what Spokane’s 35-year-old facility was built to handle. In this segment, we talk with French about the debate over a new jail and other issues related to criminal justice.