Criminal Justice Reforms


Open each section to learn more about criminal justice initiatives in Spokane County

The Spokane Police Department operates four co-deployed teams, funded by Trueblood contempt fines, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the State’s competency evaluation and restoration services. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has one team funded by a Washington Association of Sheriff’s & Police Chiefs (WASPC) grant. Both law enforcement agencies partner with Frontier Behavioral Health to staff the mental health professionals. The Sheriff’s Office has a designated co-deployed team, whereas the four mental health professionals rotate among patrol officers with the Spokane Police Department.

With roughly 6 million dollars in investments from the State, Spokane is developing a Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Facility. The facility is designated solely for law enforcement agencies and is designed as an alternative to jail for individuals struggling with mental health or substance use disorders and facing eligible charges5. The facility, operated by Pioneer Human Services (Pioneer), will include a medical clearance unit, detoxification and sobering beds, as well as sixteen crisis beds. Crisis beds are capped at 16 for Medicaid Reimbursement purposes, which will provide a significant amount of sustainable funding for the facility.6 Pioneer will also facilitate care coordination upon an individual’s release.

The facility is a voluntary alternative for the individual. If the referred patient elects to leave the facility, the jail will be notified. If the individual successfully completes treatment and does not have another arrest within a year, the original charges will never be filed with the Court. With the preferred provider selected, Spokane County will work with an architecture firm to begin renovations of the Motor Pool building where the facility will be located. The project team anticipates the facility will open in June 2020. Preliminary impact calculations indicate that once the facility is operating at capacity, it will save 25,298 bed days in jail, which translates to a roughly 69 person decrease in the average daily population (ADP).

The Office of Pre-Trial Services is launching a new project by the end of June 2019, with funding from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety & Justice Challenge. This clinician will identify individuals held on low bonds who present with mental health or substance use disorders and offer to supervise them on a therapeutic caseload if the court releases the individual pre-trial. The clinician will help the individual access inpatient treatment, or a variety of wrap around services. The strategy aims to increase these individuals’ court appearance rate by connecting them to supportive, voluntary services. We also expect that these individuals connected with supportive services will have more favorable case outcomes. If the clinician serves 90 individuals with felony charges over the course of a year, preliminary impact calculations estimate that the program will save 3,249 jail days, or decrease the ADP by 9 individuals. This is not a diversion program.

The 5177 Mental Health Diversion program is grant administered by Spokane County’s Department of Community Health and Human Services in partnership with Detention Services. Detention Services screens individuals for mental health diagnoses, eligible charges,7 and interest in the program. Eligible individuals are passed on to the prosecutor for review and admission into the program. Once admitted, the individual is released from jail and receives intensive case management services from mental health clinicians and peer supports. Once the individual completes the treatment, their charges are dismissed. Since the program’s inception in 2016, 384 individuals engaged in treatment and were released from jail. Only 28 individuals have been rearrested.