SPOKANE, Wash. - City Council president and mayoral candidate Ben Stuckart released his proposed solutions for the criminal justice system in Spokane- specifically in regards to overcrowding at the Spokane County Jail.
Stuckart's solution would consolidate misdemeanor services into one building that would have courtrooms, beds and space for judges, prosecutors, public defenders and probation officers. He said that would make the system more efficient and reduce jail overcrowding.
Stuckart said the city spends more than $4 million each year on both buildings/offices for the municipal court departments and to house inmates with misdemeanor convictions at the Spokane County Jail.
He says his plan to consolidate municipal services could be done for the same amount of money abd would improve the court system's efficiency, provide privacy to attorneys and their clients and keep people out of the Spokane County Jail that do not need to be there.
Stuckart said the first thing that needs to be done is to make the Community Court a permanent fixture of the justice system.
KXLY reached out to other mayoral candidates for their comments.
- In a phone conversation, Kelly Cruz said any such expansion would require a study and input from the criminal justice system. He said his obvious questions would be: Is it cost-effective? What is the projected outcome? Would ir require more work for those who work in criminal justice system? Cruz said he did not think the plan was cost effective, and said he did not feel Stuckart's cost estimate was adequate. He also said he does not feel that a new municipal jail is the best way to address overcrowding in the Spokane County Jail. He does favor a proposal that he said was made as part of the county's original jail plan in 2009- a new intake building behind the current jail that he says would fast-track incoming defendants to services they might need and allow officers to get back out into the community.
- Nadine Woodward sent this statement:
"On the surface, Ben Stuckart's proposal looks like a magic bullet; he claims that it's an efficient, pragmatic, and no cost solution to the City's criminal justice challenges. But if his plan is as good as advertised, why is he waiting?'
"For four years, Ben has presided over a City Council majority that could have implemented this proposal. Instead, it appears that he waited until the moment of greatest political advantage to bring his best ideas to the table. If he believes that this plan the right path for Spokane's Municipal Court, he should be promoting it to the other members of the Council, not using it as a political talking point.'
"Ben has six months left as City Council president, and the voters expect him to use that time for their benefit, not his own. Spokane needs effective leadership, not someone who develops policy proposals but puts them off until they profit him the most."
KXLY has not heard back yet from candidates Shawn Poole or Jonathan Bingle.
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