This actually could be a pretty good deal if done properly
and people are able to put politics and turf protection aside, of course the
idea isn’t original a very similar idea was presented to Sheriff Ozzie
Knezovich during a meeting with him back in 2013.
Knezovich was supposed to present the idea and the memo to
the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission but that never happened so
having a couple of friends on the Commission I had to deliver it personally.
For people that don’t recall back in 2013 the SRCJ Commission came out with a final report entitled ““A Blueprint for Reform,” which was a 58-page document and ended up being a scathing critique of Spokane County’s Systems.
If folks actually read “A Blueprint for Reform” they would
find that the folks that received Kudos from the Commission were the City folks
and not the County folks.
“It is clear that the Municipal Court, and all city
agencies, have been innovative, cooperative and effective,” the draft report
found. “This cannot be said about the District Court. All city agencies are
vehemently opposed to consolidation with the District Court. The District Court
was found to lack cohesion and was unwilling to embrace plainly needed reform,
and unconcerned with the costs of jail sentences and detention before trials
and probation hearings.”
The SRCJ Commission set a five-year timeline for change. In
2015 as a result of “A Blueprint for Reform” the Spokane County Commissioners
established the County dominated Spokane
Regional Law & Justice Council (SRLJC) who have accomplished absolutely
nothing and the reason it hasn’t is because of all the stupid turf wars and agenda
manipulation that goes on day in and day everyone blaming everyone else for all
the log jams. A recent finger pointing exchange between SRLJC Administrator Maggie
Yates and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has been a topic of discussion around the
Court House recently and all indications are that the little gal held her own
and wasn’t the least bit intimidated.
Even SR Columnist/Reporter and Frequent Conservative Critic
Shawn Vestal mentioned just a few of the problems in this column.
More recently SRCJ Chair Judge Maryann Moreno pretty much
laid out the plan in this January 2019 Spokane Public Radio Interview.
My recollection of it at the time was that it was
designed to try to assist in contemplating the building of a new jail. The
building of a new jail was believed to be necessary because our Geiger facility
was going to be closing. It enabled us to sit down and look at all of our
systems and to see if we could do a better job and if we needed a jail and, if so,
how big did we need that jail to be?”
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has called
for a new jail in the past, said leaders and law enforcement had the right idea
when they combined the city and county jails 50 years ago and this new proposal
would further divide an already strained system. He called city and county
leaders behind the current jail in the late 1960s wise and said taking
misdemeanor offenders out of the county jail likely wouldn’t help with
“They combined all of the things for a reason,” he said,
“because its cheaper for the community overall.”
Since Ozzie was just six years old when all the discussion
regarding the move took place, including the battles over who was going to
control such things as Records and Records Management, the Property Room,
Forensics…etcetera, nor was he on any kind of a move committee and most of the
folks involved in that discussion and move have passed on so I wonder where he
came up with all of his knowledge.
As a matter of fact, Ozzie wouldn’t have a clue how hard it
was to park a loaded paddy wagon in front of the old station house when other
Cops parked in front when they weren’t supposed to, or how fun it was to take
prisoners on the elevator up to jail. 😊
If this idea is done right, devoid of all the political crap, turf wars, and self-serving agendas it just might be a start in the right direction. But then again giving the County complete control of the SREC is exactly the type of move the County wants to go along with their growing control of the City of Spokane.