Spokane Community Court proves to be successful, city says

The City of Spokane released a report on Thursday, evaluating the effectiveness of a program to reduce local crime by working with offenders.

According to the city’s website, Spokane Municipal Community Court works by problem solving and holding people in the criminal justice system accountable for their actions.

It does so by addressing why criminals do what they do, and building strong relationships within the criminal justice system.

The Community Court program started six years ago and is held at the Downtown Public Library.

The program was evaluated by researchers with Washington State University, who found it was successful. In fact, researchers said participants are less likely to commit additional crimes than criminals who didn’t participate in the program.

“Participants consistently possessed lower odds of recidivism than the historical and contemporary comparison groups,” the report said.

It found that, of the 1,166 participants, 41 percent accessed DSHS services; 50 percent accessed state health care; 44 percent accessed supplemental security income services; 32 percent accessed housing services; 39 percent accessed legal services; and 45 percent accessed Lions Club services.

While the program was found to be mostly successful, researchers said it could benefit from providing onsite chemical dependency evaluations, as well as increase use of its Needs Assessment tool, which looks into factors like employment, education, and risk of re-offending.

“We are taking steps now to fix these issues,” said Municipal Court Judge Mary Logan. “We are ensuing that needs assessments are performed on every participant and tracked regularly, we have also developed a new partnership for chemical dependency evaluations, and we are reaching out to additional services providers to become part of the court.”