A recently renewed Spokane County Law and Justice Council tasked with reshaping the region's law enforcement, court and jail systems will hold its first public meeting tonight.
Bringing together city and county officials, the new council stems from a recent "Blueprint for Reform" that calls for widespread changes to how local law and justice agencies collaborate on crime and punishment. The council's first meeting is scheduled for 5 pm Thursday at the Student Academic Center, Rm 501, of the WSU Riverpoint Campus in downtown.
An agenda posted online states the initial meeting will review the council members and mission. The council will also discuss subcommittee assignments and start on a timeline for reform goals.
A Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission presented more than 43 different reform recommendations earlier this year, including the reinstitution of the Law and Justice Council as well as hiring an administrator to oversee systemwide changes.
Jacqueline van Wormer, an assistant professor with WSU's Criminal Justice department, has signed on to serve as an interim coordinator. She says the city and county stakeholders will have to learn to work across different systems and jurisdictions for a holistic approach.
County commissioners passed a resolution in May, reestablishing the council and defining its members. The resolution says the council will include two commissioners, the county sheriff, police representatives, county prosecutor, the Spokane City Council president, judges from the various courts, the Superior Court clerk, county risk manager, the Spokane mayor and other at-large members.
The Smart Justice Campaign, which has advocated for many of the reforms recommended in the newest efforts, has released an open letter calling for the inclusion of more diverse, civilian representatives. Officials have not yet responded to that concern.