Whatcom County Justice Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee 2022-2023 searchable meeting summaries / Noisy Waters Northwest

May 1, 2023 Dena Jensen

Over the next few months, our community will have a more intensive opportunity to review and speak out about the process (and outcome of that process) by which Whatcom County Council has come to accept recommendations, and potentially propose funding, for a new jail along with mental and behavioral health services related to incarceration and reducing and preventing incarceration.

In this post you will find the content of the meeting summaries of the Whatcom County Justice Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee – during the period the committee was meeting from January 2022 through January 2023 – here in one place. This allows folks to search on things like key words, topics, dates, service providers, programs, or people’s names. For each meeting date, a link is also provided near the top of that edition of a meeting summary to access the copy which is posted on the Whatcom County website.

According to the description on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee webpage on the Whatcom County website:

“The purpose of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) is to guide the development of the Justice Project (public health, safety and justice facility needs assessment). SAC members will act as liaisons to the communities or agencies they represent. They will share information about the study, bring feedback to the SAC meetings, and help build a plan that is reflective of community values. Through engaging communities and agencies they represent, SAC members will help develop community support for the recommendations in the Needs Assessment.”

The meetings of this committee included presentations and discussions on many topics and programs related to which justice system, and mental and behavioral health policies, programs, services, and facilities are currently in place, as well as those that are needed but are not in place or which have insufficient capacity or other qualities.

Here is the link to the completed January 2023 Whatcom County Justice Project Needs Assessment report: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/72627/Whatcom-County-Justice-Project-Needs-Assessment-Report?fbclid=IwAR1cXaDtsfMcIJmNXs2JN20vtnaZCIdz7PpeHSLFK2jS0DpcMjtJz6Uo9xg 

Here is a link to the Stakeholder Advisory Committee page that includes, among other things, a list of the committee members: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/72627/Whatcom-County-Justice-Project-Needs-Assessment-Report?fbclid=IwAR1cXaDtsfMcIJmNXs2JN20vtnaZCIdz7PpeHSLFK2jS0DpcMjtJz6Uo9xg

Here is a link to the Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meetings page, where you can access all meeting materials for those meetings: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/3352/SAC-Meetings-and-Additional-Information

Holding down both the Control and F keys on a Windows computer keyboard at the same time, or holding down both the Command and F keys on an Apple computer keyboard at the same time, should give people a search field to enter words and phrases to look for. 

My goal is to continue to build on a project of assembling local government meeting minutes into batches that can be searched for material like a topic, presentation, person in attendance, or actions of the members of the body that is meeting.

I recently created a Searchable Minutes page on this blog site where folks can find links to all the posts of different years of Whatcom County and Bellingham City Council searchable minutes I have created so far. Here is the link to that page: https://noisywatersnw.com/searchable-minutes/

Additionally, on a computer, the Searchable Minutes page should show up with other page buttons under the header for my blog site. On a mobile device, the Searchable Minutes page should show up when you click on the Menu button.

Whatcom County Justice Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee 2022-2023 searchable meeting summaries


Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, January 20th, 2022 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/63294/SAC-Meeting-1—Jan-20-2022_MINUTES-draft?bidId= ]

Participants: Barry Buchanan, Kara Allen, Doug Chadwick, Kendra Cook, Atul Deshmane, Bill Elfo, Brooke Eolande, Arlene Feld, Heather Flaherty (briefly), Brel Froebe, Stephen Gockley, David Goldman, Daniel Hammill, Brian Heinrich, Jack Hovenier, Wendy Jones, Scott Korthuis, Cliff Langley, Michael Lilliquist, Harriet Markell, Jackie Mitchell, Perry Mowery, Darlene Peterson, Eric Richey, Tyler Schroeder, Satpal Sidhu, Daron Smith, Mary Lou Steward, Hannah Stone, Eli Wainman

Support: Cathy Halka, Holly O’Neil, Mardi Solomon

Absent SAC Members: Patrick Brodie Allen, Chad Butenschoen, Seth Fleetwood, Katrice Rodriguez/Rick George, Kristin

Hanna, Deborah Hawley, Anthony Hillaire, Jeff Monks, Jon Mutchler, Flo Simon

Call to Order – Barry Buchanan, Councilmember. The meeting was held remotely on Zoom.

Roll Call of all SAC Members – Cathy Halka, Legislative Analyst

Welcome – Barry Buchanan

• Barry welcomed everyone and introduced the facilitation team, Holly O’Neil & Mardi Solomon.

Meeting Procedures, Participation Guidelines, Decision-Making – Holly O’Neil (Slides 2-9)

• Holly reviewed the agenda, meeting participation guidelines, the process for decision-making and project


Q: Will there be a possibility of dissenting opinions?

A: Yes, dissenting opinions are referred to as “unresolved concerns”, and will be included in the notes. Comment: Another process is that a group of people could adopt a dissenting opinion.

• The public comment process is to send an email to: SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us. All emails that come to this address will be posted online so all SAC members and the public can see them.

Project Overview

– Overview of the Issues – Tyler Schroeder, Deputy Executive (Slides 10-12)

• Presented the historical context for the formation and convening of the SAC starting with the current jail

opening in 1983 and going through recent developments.

• Questions about the adequacy and safety of the jail started to arise in the early 1990’s and the Law and

Justice Council recommended construction of a new jail in 2000.

• Sales tax measures to fund construction of a large jail on county property on La Bounty Rd. failed in 2015

and 2017.

• Around this same time, community conversation about incarceration prevention and reduction led to

formation of the IPRTF.

• In 2019 the County Council adopted Public Health, Safety, and Justice Facility Planning Principles and

   To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

      formed the SAC.


– How Incarceration Needs Have Changed – Eric Richey, Prosecutor (Slide 13) • Changes in population and recent laws impact the jail population:

o Increased population in Whatcom County coincides with increases in crime (seeing increases in violent crimes and property crimes) and increased recidivism.

o People charged with violent crimes are held for a longer time awaiting trial.

o TheBlakedecisionhashadthebiggestimpact.ThisSupremeCourtdecisionabolishedthecrime

of unlawful possession of hard drugs which has resulted in reduced sentences for other crimes and fewer bed days in jail for all crimes. Unintended consequence of this law is it is harder to encourage people to get treatment without a felony possession charge.

• COVID Impacts:

o Courts have shutdown repeatedly for long periods of time.

o Booking restrictions set to limit the jail population.

o Case backlog, reduced resolutions, and people languishing in jail.

• There is a new emphasis on treatment programs which reduce recidivism and jail bed days.

o Drug Court has been very effective and been a model for the WA State DOSA (Drug Offender

Sentencing Alternative) program which is run by the Dept. of Corrections.

o Mental Health Court is a similar program to encourage mental health treatment and divert

people away from the criminal justice system.

o GRACE (Ground Level Response and Coordinated Engagement) is a program coordinated by the

City of Bellingham and Whatcom County. This voluntary program provides wraparound services for people who are high users of the Emergency Dept. and emergency medical services (EMS). It also has reduced criminal recidivism.

o LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) provides wraparound services for people who commit low-level crimes. Hope for the same level of reduced recidivism as with GRACE.

• The main message as we talk about building a new facility is we need treatment beds. The jail should not be a place to house people with mental illness. Criminal justice is often closely linked to public health.

– Factors Affecting the Jail Population – Bill Elfo, Sheriff (Slides 14-15)

• There are many failures with the jail in terms of space for treatment (mental health treatment, detox,

medical isolation) and space for education and training.

• Booking restrictions have significantly reduced the jail population had an impact: Between 2018 and

2020, the number of people booked into Whatcom County jail population decreased from 7281 to 3393.

Restricted ability to take people into custody.

• COVID impacts:

o Don’t have space in jail for adequate physical distancing. 

o Sentencing delays, which ties up available space.

o Suspension of trials.

• Significant reduction in plea agreements which usually clears about 90% of cases of people in custody.

• Average length of stay has increased from 7 to 18 days since last year.

• Significant increase in number of offenders with serious mental illness.

• Current bail amounts have little connection to the underlying offenses and people who have a hard time

paying high bails remain in jail.

• Impacts of Blake decision: Drug possession charges decreased significantly. Harder to get people into

treatment programs.

• Other attempts to control the jail population: All deputies have crisis intervention training. Have two

mental health deputies who only respond to people in crisis. Working with the Health Dept. to get a

mental health specialist to ride with the deputies and provide professional services.

• Still seeing issues with opiate drugs. Have medically assisted treatment (MAT) program in jail.


– Additional comments by Wendy Jones, Chief of Corrections:

• People coming into the jail on drug charges have reduced, but the number of people coming in on drugs

has increased significantly (fentanyl and methamphetamines).

• The number of inmates getting MAT services in the jail has increased significantly with the recent hiring of

a provider licensed in addiction medicine.

• Resources are needed to continue treatment services in the community for people who are released.

• Neither the downtown jail nor work center have any space that is ADA compliant. This is becoming a

bigger issue.

– Key Personnel, Roles – Barry Buchanan (Slides 16-17)

• Review of the many committees working to address incarceration prevention and reduction and public

safety (e.g., Council’s Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee, IPRTF, SAC), and how they have evolved

and relate to one another.

• Consultants will provide additional support to the SAC and IPRTF helping with data, facilitation,

communications, and public engagement. Additional professionals will be engaged when it is time for facilities design, costs, and financing.

– Guiding Principles – Barry Buchanan (Slides 18-21)

• Whatcom County has joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE).

• In 2019 the County adopted Public Health, Safety, & Justice Facility Planning Principles.

• IPRTF produces annual reports twice a year presenting specific recommendations.

• IPRTF formed an Information Needs and Data Exchange (INDEX) sub-committee to work on data


• Facility location has to work best for all partners involved. The work center and crisis stabilization center

are at Irongate, and the county has purchased additional land there creating an opportunity to have a

campus-oriented facility.

• Will have to come to agreement with all the partners about construction and operating costs.

• Will continue to work on reducing bail and probation procedures.

• Plan to hire a behavioral health criminal justice planner.

• We put future funding proposal on the ballot to fund justice system improvements.

• Committed to a transparent process with opportunities for community input.

• IPRTF has worked with the Sequential Intercept Model developed by Policy Resource Associates. It shows

where we can intervene in the process. Need to add pre-zero intercepts for prevention.

• IPRTF broke the process down to show existing and needed programs that support people at each

intercept level, including programs that are in existence and funded, programs that are needed but not funded, and prospective projects.

– Phase One Goals – Stephen Gockley, IPRTF Co-Chair (Slides 22-26)

• The overall project has 3 phases. The SAC will work on Phase 1: Needs Assessment. Phase 2 is architecture

and facility planning. Phase 3 is financial agreements and how to get needed funding.

• The originating ordinance the County passed forming this group calls on us to follow evidence-based

practices and the experience and recommendations of knowledgeable professionals.

• The IPRTF was the catalyst for engagement with GARE and committed to GARE’s Racial Equity Toolkit.

• It is important to build on lessons from our prior efforts (e.g., previous ballot initiatives, listening

sessions). We heard people want a small jail for people who need to be incarcerated and expanded

treatment alternatives.

• The IPRTF has been guided by national criminal justice reform consultants from the Vera Institute, the

National Assoc. of Drug Court Professionals, the Office of the Administrator of the Courts, Superior Court,

and others.

• There are building blocks in place for diversion & treatment goals.


• Confounding factors that need to be addressed in Phase 1:

o We have outdated data systems and systems are fragmented.

o Service systems aren’t developed as a continuum.

o Inadequate capacity of treatment and support programs, and workforce shortages in behavioral

health and substance use treatment services.

• SAC needs assessment and gap analysis process: Start with a survey of the criminal legal system then

focus on behavioral health services which includes housing, and substance abuse treatment.

• We need to ask: What programs do we have? Who is in the system? Who has to be in there and who

doesn’t? And what programs, do we need to meet needs that we’re not addressing?

Questions, Answers, and Comments (Q, A, C): SAC members asked questions and presenters responded.

Q: Was it a mistake to delay SAC meetings since 2019?

A: Tyler Schroeder – In Feb-Mar 2020 the County was focused on emergency response to the pandemic. From a

community dialogue and participation standpoint, it was very important to put this process on hold.

Q: The last bullet of slide 11 says the IPRTF will also serve as Law & Justice Council. What does this mean?

A: Tyler Schroeder – There was an existing Law & Justice Council authorized by RCW7209300 to work on specific

law and justice issues. With so much community input and participation at the IPRTF level, it was decided it would make sense for IPRTF to have a dual role and take on those responsibilities as well.

Q: Speakers talked about the challenges of COVID on the jail and legal system. Going from 7,000 to 3,000 inmates is striking and, in some ways, it can be seen as a success to lower the numbers so significantly. What are lessons to learn from policies that were enacted because of the pandemic that could be extended?

C: Brel Froebe – I would love to see data/research on the efficacy of compulsory treatment.

Q: Do we have data for drug and alcohol services and mental health services? Do we know how many people are already receiving services, at what agencies, at what level of care, where the gaps are, etc., or are we going to be researching that?

A: Barry Buchanan – That’s something high on the list to ascertain in our deep dive sessions.

A: Stephen Gockley – We have a little bit of data and some really knowledgeable people (e.g., Arlene Feld, Perry

Mowery). We have a lot of data we haven’t integrated, and we have a lot of gaps in the data.

Q: Can we talk about funding prevention & treatment programs rather than just funding facilities for incarceration?

A: Barry Buchanan – The vision is to have a more holistic approach and take in all these considerations when we talk about funding.

C: Daniel Hammill – The IPRTF Behavioral Health Committee discussed drugs, treatment options, and involuntary treatment at the last meeting. Encourage SAC members to look at the committee’s meeting recordings for background info.

C: Satpal Sidhu – Another big factor to look at is operating costs. If we can save $10M in operating costs per year, the jail pays for itself. Whatever choices we make, look into how we can reduce operating costs.

C: Atul Deshmane – How much will we emphasize pre-incarceration treatment? The more we can do before we use government-owned facilities, the more we save in operating costs and for the community. I would like to see a community needs assessment driven by all the things that are not related to facilities as much as things that are.

Q: Will we be doing outreach to folks who are formerly or currently incarcerated doing this as part of needs assessment and who will be taking this on?

A: Barry Buchanan – Yes, there are members of this group with lived experience. Mr. Goldman has a lot of experience working with people in the jail with workforce training.


C: David Goldman – A major diversion program in the county is education as well as career development. Both are wonderful opportunities with lots of resources in the county.

C: Wendy Jones – We can send paper surveys to the offender population and do it in multiple languages. Issue is over half the population is functionally illiterate. Could get a college student to do anonymous interviews of people currently incarcerated.

Note: Stephen & Jack are available to answer questions about The Law & Justice Council and other topics. Best way to reach them is through the IPRTF. If your question is relevant to whole SAC, send it to SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us.

Coordination – Holly O’Neil (Slides 28-29)

– Elect SAC Chair: The Chair’s role is primarily to serve as liaison with County Council. The facilitator asked for

any nominations.

Nominations: Jack Hovenier nominated Barry Buchanan to serve as SAC chair.

Second: Satpal Sidhu seconded.

The facilitator asked for any other nominations. There were no other nominations.

Approved: Barry Buchanan was elected as the Chair, unanimous approval with one abstention – Brel Froebe.

– Next Steps: (Slide 30)

Tasks between now and next mtg. in early April:

➢ Do OPMA training.

➢ Familiarize yourself with content.

➢ Fill out the survey by the end of the month to help the Planning Team start thinking about sub-


➢ Identify 3-5 people from your respective communities or agencies you represent to talk with between

each SAC meeting to discuss key topics and gather diverse input to inform the work. This will help expand your thinking and you can bring questions back to the group. Pick people who will challenge your thinking and lean into diversity of perspectives.

➢ Reach out to people to fill the remaining vacancy on the SAC.

SAC webpage: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/justice is where info for the committee will be held.

Send input and questions to Stakeholder Advisory Committee email: SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us. Adjourn 3:02.



Optional attendance. SAC Members encouraged to attend

Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force:

Joint Behavioral Health Committee and Legal and Justice Systems Committee

Meeting Summary for March 15, 2022

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/65162/Summary-Joint-Committees-March-15-2022 ]

Agenda item links to YouTube video are functional at the time this meeting summary was created, however, YouTube links may change. Links in this document will not be updated. Please refer to the time notation on each agenda item.


1. Call to Order

Behavioral Health Committee Chair Dan Hammill called the meeting to order at 11:31 a.m. The meeting was held via remote-only Zoom Webinar.

Members Present: Doug Chadwick, Chris Cochran, Bill Elfo, Arlene Feld, Heather Flaherty, David Freeman, Dan Hammill, Deborah Hawley, Mike Hilley, Stephen Gockley, Raylene King, Rhyan Lopez, Jackie Mitchell, Perry Mowery, Mike Parker, Darlene Peterson, Eric Richey, Donnell Tanksley, Brien Thane, Bruce Van Glubt, Maia Vanyo,

Members Absent: Nathan Bajema, Brian Estes, Seth Fleetwood, Flo Simon, Michael G. Smith, Courtney Taylor

2. Competency and Restoration (Continued from December joint meeting) (00:01:10) Susan Copeland, Darla Dawson, Erik Nygård, and Thomas Kinlen, all of DSHS, were present at the

meeting to give a presentation and discuss this agenda item.

Kinlen explained the Sell vs. United States case. Main points included:

• When an individual is in restoration, medication is almost always attempted. If the person does not agree to medication voluntarily the Sell case allows practitioners to force medication for the purpose of competency restoration after following a legal process.

• The facility would request a Sell hearing. If the prosecutor agrees, a hearing would be held in which the state would need to demonstrate a compelling state interest in forced medication.

• If the judge orders forced medication, facility staff will work with the patient to explain the process and administer the medication, which might involve a manual hold of the individual.

• This process can take anywhere from two to six weeks and often involves the individual being transported back to jail for the hearing.

• Copeland added that Residential Treatment Facilities (RTFs) cannot progress with treatment while waiting for a Sell order and explained what happens after the order comes through.

Parker asked if a Sell hearing can be held virtually to speed up the process. Copeland said that each RTF is set up to do that and it was determined that Whatcom County does remote Sell hearings as well.

Hammill asked if race and ethnicity are tracked at the RTFs and if treatment was provided for substance use disorder (SUD) at RTFs. Copeland responded that their RTFs are not licensed to do SUD treatment and that the Research and Data Analytic Team collects that data.

Gockley asked what the problems were with Whatcom and what improvements have been made. Copeland explained that there were time delays due to slow communication and setting the hearing dates. She added that things are improving. DSHS staff and committee members continued to discuss the delays and communication issues.

Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force:

Joint Behavioral Health Committee and Legal and Justice Systems Committee

Meeting Summary for March 15, 2022

Agenda item links to YouTube video are functional at the time this meeting summary was created, however, YouTube links may change. Links in this document will not be updated. Please refer to the time notation on each agenda item.


Richey said that the first factor in a Sell hearing is determining that there is an important governmental interest in compelling medication, and that generally this would only be the case for felonies.

Committee members and the DSHS staff members continued to discuss competency restoration and processes within RTFs. Topics of discussion included:

• The prevalence of substance use disorder co-occurring with mental health issues and the ability of RTFs to administer medication for substance use disorder

• What happens to individuals after they are released from an RTF and how to provide a useful discharge summary to jails in order to facilitate a warm hand-off and prevent a return to the RTF

• Supports available in Whatcom County post-release, the gaps that still exist, and opportunities for added supports in the future

King brought up concerns about Senate Bill 5664, which will authorize officers to detain a mentally ill individual if they are not complying with medication requirements. She said that the last thing we want is to be detaining more mentally ill individuals.

Whatcom County Jail Chief Wendy Jones presented to the committee on the competency determination process. She shared a flow chart and went into detail about each step described on the chart. She pointed out steps in which longer delays may occur.

Committee members asked questions of Chief Jones regarding her presentation and other subjects related to the jail. Discussion ensued around topics including:

• The jail’s ability to administer medication and the fact that they do not have people on staff who can provide psychological services and other resources needed to administer medication involuntarily.

• Remote competency evaluations, which are currently being done in Whatcom County, but can still be delayed since a judge has to make a legal declaration regarding competency after the medical determination has been made.

• Statistics regarding the number of inmates currently in the competency determination process. Chief Jones estimated that between 50 and 75 people go through the process each year.

Feld asked what needs to change and Jones replied that they need a way to move folks through the steps more quickly. She said the longer it takes to get someone through the system, the higher the chance that they will decompensate while in the jail. Vanyo explained the roadblocks to speeding up the process from the defense perspective.

Dawson said that if someone is waiting in jail for competency restoration and seems to be improving during that time, there is a process to request a re-evaluation, which could result in the individual being moved through the system more quickly. Vanyo commented that it is very rare for one of her clients to self-restore.

Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force:

Joint Behavioral Health Committee and Legal and Justice Systems Committee

Meeting Summary for March 15, 2022

Agenda item links to YouTube video are functional at the time this meeting summary was created, however, YouTube links may change. Links in this document will not be updated. Please refer to the time notation on each agenda item.


Mitchell asked about Senate Bill 5664 and if it would help. Jones said that the biggest problem with the legislation is that there is nowhere to put folks who are detained for failing to follow instructions for community restoration.

3. Current Use Data on the Crisis Stabilization Center

This item was not discussed.

4. Reentry Services

This item was not discussed.

5. Update on the Sequential Intercept

This item was not discussed.

6. Other Business (1:25:53)

Hammill asked if it was possible for there to be an additional joint meeting in April. It was decided that

they would hold a joint meeting during the next scheduled Behavioral Health Committee on April 19.

7. Public Comment (01:31:12)

Atul Deshmane thanked the committee members for the meeting and asked for the document from

Chief Jones to be shared.

Brel Froebe asked if after an individual has gone through competency restoration, if they go back to trial and whether treatment would be sufficient rather than further prosecution if the root cause of the crime was mental illness. Richey replied that this issue is more complex than mental illness being the cause and treatment being the answer. King brought up the difference between competency and insanity.

8. Adjourn

The meeting adjourned at 1:05 P.M.


SAC Members encouraged to participate. (attendance optional)

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

SAC Group Discussion #1: Crisis Stabilization Center

Wednesday, March 30, 2022 3:00 – 4:00 pm Meeting Summary

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/66748/Meeting-Summary-SAC-Grp-Disc-1—March-30-2022 ]

SAC Participants: Atul Deshmane, Barry Buchanan, Brel Froebe, Brian Heinrich, Brooke Eolande, Cliff Langley, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, David Goldman, Erika Lautenbach, Heather Flaherty, Jack Hovenier, Karla Ward, Kristin Hanna, Mardi Solomon, Michael Lilliquist, Peter Frazier, Perry Mowery, RB Tewksbury, Scott Korthuis, Seth Fleetwood, Stephen Gockley

Presenters: Jack Hovenier (IPRTF), Perry Mowery (Whatcom County Health Department)

Absent SAC Members: Anthony Hillaire, Arlene Feld, Chad Butenschoen, Daron Smith, Debora Hawley, Eli Wainman, Flo Simon, Harriet Markell, John Mutchler, Katrice Rodriguez/Rick George, Kara Mitchell, Kendra Cook, Mary Lou Steward, Satpal Sidhu/Tyler Schroeder, Sheriff Elfo/Doug Chadwick

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading


Presentation on the Crisis Stabilization Facility, Jack Hovenier

• Substance Abuse Advisory Board first discussed idea of a crisis stabilization facility in 2007/2008

• Original ordinance creating the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF)

included the need to create a new and/or expanding crisis center for people struggling with

mental illness and substance use disorders

• The 16 beds per side is a Medicaid funding requirement. There are two operators with a

common lobby. One side is substance use disorder treatment and the other is mental health

emergencies. The goal was to reduce incarceration through the use of this facility.

• Construction of the facility began in 2019, and the facility opened in 2021.

• $2 million came from a Commerce grant. Staffing costs can be very high and Rep. Shewmake got

$2 million to fund staffing. Keeping the facility funded is an ongoing challenge. It is not typical

for governments to take on this type of risk and our community took a risk.

• There is a reputation in the recovery community that the facility offers services that can help


Providers in the Crisis Stabilization Center, Perry Mowery

• This is two 16-bed programs under a single roof, and 32 beds total.

• Pioneer Human Services offer detox in the facility with 24/7 nursing staff and on-site medical

clearance for treatment. Medication assisted treatment is available. A common length of stay is

3-5 days. During that time, staff is working with clients to assess needs and connect them to

resources in the community.

• Compass Health provides mental health stabilization services at the Crisis Stabilization Center.

They support the individual and determine if a higher level of care is needed (e.g. placement at the hospital) as well as connect clients to additional services. Treatment services focus on calming the crisis and identifying resources in the community.

• Crisis Stabilization operates as a voluntary treatment facility. Clients can leave and discontinue treatment as they wish

• Rooms are individual, not shared. There is a commercial kitchen.

• Crisis Stabilization Center serves as a diversion from arrest and incarceration.

Certification of Law Enforcement 12-Hour Hold

• Compass Health is pursuing certification to facilitate law enforcement 12-hour hold

• This is defined by the state as an involuntary hold. RCW 10.31.110 identifies the 12-hour law

enforcement hold.

• This is not involuntary admission as defined by code. If an individual comes into contact with law

enforcement, person has a choice to go to jail or the crisis stabilization center. Law enforcement

delivers the individual to the Crisis Stabilization Center for a 12-hour hold.

• If the individual leaves, the facility will contact law enforcement to inform them the individual

left and broke the agreement of the 12-hour hold.

• The 12-hour hold is applicable for both the detox and mental health programs, and if someone

arrives at the jail they are able to be referred to either program.

• The certification has not been issued yet. Pioneer Human Services is working on certification. It

would only apply for mental health stabilizations services (not detox). It is a possibility in the

future to add detox services to the 12-hour hold.

• A breech of the agreement would not trigger a warrant because it would be up to the law

enforcement officer.

Questions about the 16-bed rule

• What is the limit to the 15-bed rule and what are the rules?

o Services can be provided by a single entity, but needs separate and distinct licenses with

16 beds. IF there were four programs, for example, there would be a lengthy

certification of the build and of the provider.

• The 12-hour law enforcement hold was applicable when the person was suspected of a low-

level crime. This applies when they can arrest someone, but not if they have no present charge

• Prosecutor’s Office has to specify the low-level crime. There are some limitations where the

Crisis Stabilization Center cannot intake people who need a higher level of care (e.g. if they’re on oxygen). Law enforcement will at times take people directly to the hospital. Overall, law enforcement has a free hand in bringing people into the Crisis Stabilization Center.

Identifying the correct number of beds

• What is the process to identify the correct number of beds? o Size was determined by the requirement of 16 beds.

o It’s hard to measure how many people are being turned away or who aren’t going. Anecdotally, many people I the recovery community who needed detox services weren’t trying to go to the Crisis Stabilization Center.

Data available on usage

• What data is available on how many people call in for a bed and don’t get one because there isn’t enough space?

o Staff does gather data in terms of referrals made by law enforcement, EMS, LEAD, GRACE< Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, Peace Health, jail transfers, and other community provides, self-referrals or family referrals, and base camp. A summary is created on a monthly and quarterly basis. The facility has been open for a year now, and that timeframe also includes the COVID pandemic so the data and impact of the pandemic may skew admissions data.

o On the withdrawal management side, the facility had an instance where they were at capacity and individuals were turned away. When an opening was available, staff contacts the people turned away to try to get them to come in.

o The pandemic makes the early data in the first 6 months look very different than it would if there were no pandemic.

• If an arresting officer gives a person the option of going to the crisis stabilization center and they decline, there won’t be space in the jail for them so they will be released (due to booking restrictions)

• Crisis Stabilization Advisory Committee meets regularly to discuss how to streamline referrals to the center.

Restraints/Involuntary treatment

• Concerns initially with plans to have a room with restraints because it is not an involuntary facility.

• The certification for the 12-hour hold, staff do not have certification to go hand on with a client. They cannot subdue a client chemically or physically.

• If an individual is a threat to themselves or others, they may need an involuntary admission and that would be at the hospital (not at the Crisis Stabilization Center)

• We need more space in facilities

• The Sheriff’s Office has specialized behavioral health deputies that are trained to respond to

people having a behavioral health issue.

• County tracks unduplicated individuals at the center. 42CFR requirements include protected

health information. Since the county is not the provider, health information is protected.

• Individuals would come in for detox and not accept a referral for additional care. After seeing

them repeatedly they’d finally accept an additional or higher level of care. If we address the acute issue, it’s essential to have ongoing services. GRACE and LEAD programs offer case management and wrap around services, including housing transportation to appointments.

• There is a need for more receiving services in our community.

• There is a mental health board and therapeutic courts. Mental health court is a case manager

and a recovery plan for the individual. Some individuals may be ill enough that getting to services continuously can be a challenge

Wrap Up

  • Councilmember Buchanan reflected on the question about weak links being exposed in the system. The work that is going on with the Behavioral Health Data Group will identify gaps in the system and will be presented at SAC Meeting #3 on June 8th.


SAC Members encouraged to participate. (attendance optional)

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project SAC GROUP DISCUSSION #2: LEGAL AND JUSTICE SYSTEM Thursday, April 4, 2022

1:00 – 2:00 pm

Meeting Summary

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/67336/Meeting-Summary—SAC-Grp-Disc-2—April-4-2022 ]

SAC Members in Attendance: Arlene Feld, Barry Buchanan, Bill Elfo, Brel Froebe, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, David Goldman, Deborah Hawley, Erika Lautenbach, Flo Simon, Harriett Markell, Heather Flaherty, Jack Hovenier, Kendra Cook, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Satpal Sidhu, Scott Korthuis, Stephen Gockley

Presenters: Raylene King, Arlene Feld

Absent SAC Members: Anthony Hillaire, Atul Deshmane, Brooke Eolande, Chad Butenschoen, Cliff Langley, Daron Smith, Eli Wainman, Jeff Monks, Jon Mutchler, Kara Mitchell, Katrice Rodriguez/Rick George, Kristin Hanna, Mary Lou Steward, Patrick Brodie Allen, Seth Fleetwood/Brian Heinrich

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Welcome, Barry Buchanan, Whatcom County Councilmember, SAC Chair

Presentation on the Legal and Justice System – Raylene King, Arlene Feld (Co-Chairs of the Legal and Justice

System Subcommittee of the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF))

• Domestic Violence (DV) and Treatment Services:

o Treatmentprovidershaveretiredandthereisashortageofproviderscertifiedbythestate.

There is a need for funding and treatment providers for DV offenders

o Mental health treatment is covered by insurance and DV treatment is not.

o There is a domestic MRT (moralre conation treatment) program that individuals can do.The

MRT program is not state certified but helps for those that can’t afford the certified program. o CityofBellinghamandWhatcomCountywereprovidedfundingforDVtreatmentforindigent. o City of Bellingham GPS bracelets can put a zone on a person. If they cannot go within 1,000

feet of a victim, when they are within 1,200 feet of a victim, for example, an alarm will go off. The closer they get, the louder the alarm will get. It’s a great tool for people who don’t need to be incarcerated, but need to stay away from the victim.

o There is a shortage of treatment for offenders, and challenges include staff skills and certification through State of Washington. Recently lost a local treatment provider, and finding providers for offenders is a challenge. DV treatment can be mandated by district or city courts.

 Medicaid reimbursement is very difficult for providers.  Insurance does not cover DV treatment


o Treatment for domestic violence offenders is not mandated like chemical dependency treatment, and right now there are only two providers that can treat DV offenders.

o DV treatment is mandated with certain sentences. A smaller subgroup of people need DV treatment (as opposed to more that need mental health or substance use disorder treatment)

o SAC Members should review the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) and look at the three levels, including programs going well, programs that need more, and programs we don’t have at all.

 SIM does not include funding information for listed programs. Funding information would be helpful.

 Ultimately the SIM will be on the county website with links to all the programs online with details on capacities and funding.

• Pre-Trial Processes

o Municipal court and district court have pre-trial services for misdemeanors, but no pre-trial

services through Superior Court for felonies.

o Text reminders for court dates helps reduce warrants.

o Pre-trialriskassessmenttoolcreatedbyArnoldFoundationandpilotedinSpokaneandYakima o Pre-TrialProcessesworkgroupisasideeffortsupervisedbySuperiorCourtandsupported

through the IPRTF for the purpose of creating a pre-trial risk assessment

o Vera Institute shows 60%of inmates area waiting trial dates while in jail

o ApretrialriskassessmentcalledaPublicSafetyAssessmentorPSAisbeingcreatedto

determine the likelihood of a person to return to their case if not incarcerated. Pretrial

risk assessments can reduce incarceration.

o Criminal history and previous failures to appear in court inform the assessment.

o COVID pandemic has delayed trial dates and the use of pre-trial assessments, but it is going to be used soon by Superior Court

o Postimplementationstudiesshowtheriskassessmenttooldoesnotworsenracialinequities. Dr. Peterson will post-validate Whatcom’s pre-trial risk assessment tool after it’s in place and data are available.

o Sometimes under pre-trial there can be mandated treatment depending on the circumstances of the case.

• Jail Alternatives

o Friendship Diversion Services used by Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Sumas and Lynden.They

provide GPS and SCRAM monitoring for pre-trial and post-conviction defendants.

o SCRAM is a transdermal alcohol testing device–tests alcohol use through the user’s


o Statics show people being monitored by SCRAM had 99.4 sober days.

o Monitorsalcoholanddruguse

o Detoxing at home can be hard

o Many DUIs reoffend.

o Goingintoprobationanddoingurinalysisisnotalwayspracticaldependingonfactors

like location, and a SCRAM bracelet works better.

o LawEnforcementAssistedDiversionProgram(LEAD) is for people who have substance or

mental health problems, and low-level crimes that can be diverted from jail.

o Jail restrictions (COVID, Facility issues) are preventing people being housed in the jail 

o People aren’t coming to court because there are no repercussions.


o Warrants are going up.People are not showing up for court.

o Because of COVID, there are restrictions on who can be at the workcenter.

o COVID has also impacted people going to Western State Hospital for competency evaluations or treatment for competency restoration.

o People in jail are mostly in custody for felonies, not misdemeanors.

• Re-Entry and Navigation

o COVID disrupted much of what was available for a long period of time.

o The re-entry essentials start with the need for jobs.Goodwill was in charge of a re-entry

program prior to COVID. There are companies willing to hire people who have been

incarcerated, and they were providing training.

o Education is the next most important offering.Almost 50% of those incarcerated are illiterate.

Many people in jail wanted to get their GEDs and there are services for that, but there’s a

waiting list.

o Ongoing emotional stability is important.Ongoing counseling has not been available in the jails because there is no space in the jail for counselors to work with people. There is a need for space and for staff. There are two counselors that do the work of 5 people. Staffing needs to be doubled and tripled. Mentally ill are isolated because they can’t share rooms with others.

o Sobriety services need to be offered, but there is no space in the jail to provide it.Many people in jail have co-occurring disorders: addiction and mental illness. Some are getting methadone or suboxone.

o Medical services are needed.

o Housing is not available to some people when they leave the jail–they are homeless.Many

cannot be accepted at Basecamp because of their offences. If we want people to stay healthy and sober, they need a place to live. The state is sending more funding for housing, but it isn’t sufficient.

o Jailnavigatorsareneededbecausethisisapopulationofpeoplethatfallthroughthecracks and need extra special support to keep them from cycling into the jail repeatedly.

o Jail conditions are horrendous, and the jail itself is an essential change in this process.Spaceis needed in a jail facility for all these programs.

Wrap Up:

• Additional comments and questions can be emailed to sac@co.whatcom.wa.us.



SAC Members encouraged to participate. (attendance optional)

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project SAC GROUP DISCCUSION #3 BEHAVIORAL HEALTH Tuesday, April 5, 2022

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Meeting Summary

[https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/67701/Meeting-Summary—Stakeholder-Advisory-Committee-Discussion-3_v1 ]

SAC Members in Attendance: Anne Deacon, Arlene Feld, Barry Buchanan, Cliff Langley, David Goldman, Doug Chadwick Erika Lautenbach, Harriet Markell, Heather Flaherty, Jack Hovenier, Kendra Cook, Kristin Hanna, Michael Lilliquist, Mike Hilley, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, Raylene King, RB Tewksbury, Satpal Sidhu, Scott Korthuis, Seth Fleetwood, Stephen Gockley

Presenters/Data Team: Jackie Mitchell, Daniel Hammill

Guests: Jackie Mitchell – Behavioral Health Program Specialist for the Health Department; Wendy Jones – Chief

Corrections Deputy, Sherriff’s Office; Anne Deacon

Absent SAC Members: Anthony Hillaire, Atul Deshmane, Bill Elfo, Brel Froebe, Brooke Eolande, Chad Butenschoen, Darlene Peterson, Daron Smith, Deborah Hawley, Eli Wainman, Flo Simon, Jeff Monks, John Mutchler, Kara Mitchell, Katrice Rodriguez, Mary Lou Steward, Patrick Brodie Allen, Sheryl Cartwright, Tyler Schroeder

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Welcome, Daniel Hammill

Presentation on Behavioral Health, Jackie Mitchell: Behavioral Health Program Specialist

Funding and Administration infrastructure diagram:

• There are three goals of the diagram: to show the main entities that provide behavioral health funding and administration, to show the complexity of the system and to show the relationship between the various entities.

• The State Healthcare Authority (HCA) – provides state and federal funding to North Sound Behavioral Health Administrative Services Organization (ASO), Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and Whatcom County.

o HCA funding to the Whatcom County includes triage facility, crisis stabilization center, remodeling facilities for the next set of services.

• ASOs administer funding of non-Medicaid services in behavioral health to Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom County.

o Within the ASO, there are two elected positions on the BoardofDirectors

o Six citizen appointees for the Advisory Board

o ASO contracts with entities that are not necessarily behavioral health agencies

• Whatcom County has been integrated into all levels of organizations shown in the diagram throughout the past 25 years. The County’s goal is to fill services gaps between MCOs and ASOs.

• The Whatcom County Health Department staffs most all of the agencies that support the

communities with behavioral health, prevention, outreach, housing and special populations.


o Contracted agencies include Compass Health, Catholic Community Services, Lifeline connections and SeaMar Community Health Services.

• MCOs work with insurance companies to provides all of the medicaid behavioral health treatment services and funding to the ASOs. Examples of MCOs include Amerigroup, United Health Group, Coordinated Care and Community Health Plan of Washington.

• SAC Members requested information on how the ASOs distribute their funding. This will provide more of an idea of the need for specific funding for behavioral health mechanisms in Whatcom County.

• SAC Member understands the gaps of funding (people who may fall through the cracks) within the diagram and the challenges the clients may be experiencing.

• The City of Bellingham invests in housing, which is essential for the community to succeed upon release from jail. Under City’s the Linville administration, there was an estimated 5 million dollars a year of funding for housing. House Bill 1590 accounts for 3 million of funding and forty percent of the funding can be used for behavioral/mental health services.

Jail Behavioral Health Program

• Perry Mowery from the Whatcom County Health Department is facilitating and analyzing data from the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force which includes a gap analysis using the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM).

• SAC Members should review and understand the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) and Gap Analysis to understand the existing programs and any gaps or needs along the continuum.

• The Whatcom County Jail received between 2,300-3,000 referrals from inmates, corrections staff, and medical staff and are expected to respond to those referrals within 24 hours. Those referrals are recommendations of where to send an offender.

• National research shows 15 – 17% of people incarcerated have a serious mental illness or mental health disorders. This figure may be even higher due lack of treatment and resources for mental illness.

o Challenges that employees face include state Intuitions closing and other factors that were not mentioned.

o Serious mental health disorders include- Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, Substance Use Disorder, Anxiety, Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

• In 2016, data was collected regarding people who had Medicaid services over a period of five years. The results showed the percentage of people in Whatcom County Jail who had a mental health disorder, mental health need or co-occurring disorder.

• Currently the Whatcom County Jail has a Behavioral Health and Re-Entry Services Program that has aided between 1,300-1,600 clients over the last three years

o Lifeline Connections is a service provider and includes two mental health professionals, re-entry staff, juvenile behavioral health staff and supervisor. These services include suicide risk assessment, crisis intervention/stabilization, behavioral management and medication management

• Whatcom County Jail is one of the few that is certified by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care which requires a higher standard of care and responsiveness.


However, we are unable to provide the best quality of care due to lacking confidential treatment space.

o Professionals are communicating through the food hatch or by phone and it can be very uncomfortable for professionals and clients.

o There is a greater need for:

 Four offices for mental health professionals

 Three to four confidential bullpens, with one room having remote ability to


 One to two clinical spaces for psychiatrists to conduct evaluations and

medication monitoring

 Classroom space available to accommodate eight to twelve people at once

and be managed by the mental health staff,

• Very important to have the mental health staff manage classroom

due to setting themselves up to provide behavioral health services, conduct classes, change the schedule as needed and have the ability to invite the community services to conduct other classes as well.

 Mental Health Provider (MHP) – to provide coverage for other positions

 Case Manager for re-entry services

Behavioral Update, Whatcom County Chief of Correction

• Whatcom County Jail has been collecting data and found 38% of the population is classified as seriously mentally ill.

o This includes showing signs and exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder.

• Data shows approximately 90% of offenders struggle with Substance Abuse Disorder.

• Whatcom County Jail understands the needs of the population and the challenge to be able to

meet the needs

• Whatcom County Jail is the only company that has a “no refusal” rule. Meaning they cannot

refuse anyone who is acting out due to their mental health. The jail is finding offenders continue

to escalade until they meet the criteria to be booked in jail.

• There hope is to shift the communities view on the jail to point of engagement. Due to observing

that offenders are in denial regarding mental health issues and 70% of offenders are throwing away medication in the garbage just after release. Providing people with an opportunity, there is no guarantee that they will take advantage of it.

Re-Entry Challenges and Services – 33:07

• Main challenge that is affecting the Behavioral Health System is the shortage of workforce. Programs are only being staffed at half to three quarters.

• Current programs we are using include:

o LawEnforcementAssistedDiversionProgram(LEAD)–serves people who have substance

or mental health problems and low-level crimes that can be diverted from jail.

o Ground-level Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE)-Previously administered by SeaMar Community Health Services. Provides service coordination and advocacy for

familiar faces released from jail and other systems.


o DrugCourtProgram(DCP)–Evaluates individuals for program readiness while in jail.

o Mental Health Court (MHC) – Evaluates program readiness of individuals in jail and

provides support to people for two years post incarcerations.

o Peer Path Finder Program (Jail Pilot Program) – Provided by Lifeline Connections.

Responds with a Peer Support Specialist to jail referrals for individuals who have a stimulant disorder or an opioid use disorder. Provides warm handoffs and case management services.

• Both LEAD and GRACE provide a high level of system coordination through policy, program and management by building and ensuring a healthy re-entry conduit.

• Funding for the programs is the biggest need and most important. If all the programs are staffed and funded it would be a great opportunity for the community and would be successful.

• Credit time served is offered to offenders when entering into a treatment center. Finding difficulties because offenders don’t have to stay there due to no lockdown. When an offender chooses to leave a treatment center the cycle continues and a warrant is issued for their arrest.

Addressing behavioral health issues

• In 2005, research showed treatment for mental illness did not have a statistically significant impact on reduction of recidivism or criminal behavior. However, the research also showed treatment for addiction was the most effective way of reducing future criminal behavior.

• The last five to ten years of data shows the use of methamphetamines creates behavior such as aggression, violence and predation. There are no successful medical interventions for methamphetamines.

• Treating addiction takes consistent work over a long period of time and the jail does not hold offenders long enough to provide them with the tools to stay sober. There is an opportunity to look into certain medications that can be administered before release to reduce cravings. Those medications may help individuals stay connected to treatment and thrive.

• Mental illness rarely causes criminal behavior; however, addiction can impact criminal behavior.

• There is a need to build a program that impacts criminogenic behavior, similar to GRACE, LEAD,

and Mental Health Court.

• There is a need for education in the jail. Data show when offenders receive education services

(GED or college courses) while incarcerated, it can help reduce future criminal behavior.

• Main things to keep in mind for the jail:

o How to keep offenders safe when they are unable to keep themselves safe by having a separate location with on-site monitoring

o Spacetoofferservicestomaximizetheabilityconnectwithpeopleandhaveaninitial engagement

• There is a new program of alternative response team or a non-law enforcement team: would respond to a mental health or crises related substance abuse disorder. There are discussions underway for a co-response model which would include both behavioral health specialists with Law Enforcement to provide services.

Wrap Up

• Complexities of behavioral health are huge, and it would be helpful to figure out a follow up to see if we could further discuss these issues.



SAC attendance required

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, April 7, 2022 1:30 – 3:30 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/65992/Meeting-minutes—SAC-Mtg-2—4-7-2022 ]

SAC Participants: Barry Buchanan, Jon Mutchler, Bill Elfo, Daniel Hammill, David Goldman, Doug Chadwick, Erika Lautenbach, Flo Simon, Harriet Markell, Kara Allen, Kendra Cook, Kristin Hanna, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Cliff Langley, Satpal Sidhu, Scott Korthuis, Stephen Gockley, Heather Flaherty, Arlene Feld, Daron Smith, Atul Deshmane

Presenters/Data Team: Caleb Erickson, Jeremy Morton, Alexes Harris, Malora Chrisensen, Mike Hilley, Wendy Jones Support: Holly O’Neil, facilitator; Mardi Solomon, notes; Jackie Lassiter, County Staff

Absent SAC Members: Patrick Brodie Allen, Chad Butenschoen, Seth Fleetwood/Brian Heinrich, Katrice Rodriguez/Rick George, Deborah Hawley, Anthony Hillaire, Jack Hovenier, Jeff Monks, Brooke Waaga, Brel Froebe, Darlene Peterson, MaryLou Steward

Welcome – Barry Buchanan

Process Overview – Holly O’Neil

• The first SAC meeting was Jan. 20, 2022. This is the second meeting of this group and will focus on

criminal justice data. The third meeting will be June 8 and will focus on behavioral health data. The

following meetings will move into discussion of facilities and the preliminary needs assessment.

• It is likely we will add 1-2 more meetings to the schedule.

Agenda Review – Holly

Introduction of Presenters – Barry

• Dr. Alexes Harris, Professor of Sociology, University of Washington.

• Lt. Caleb Erickson, Corrections, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office

• Jeremy Morton, Systems Analyst, Whatcom County Emergency Medical Services

Goals of this Meeting – Holly

• To explore the kinds of data needed for the needs assessment and begin thinking about how the data

will help us arrive at our recommendations.

Presentation Introduction – Dr. Alexes Harris

• Alexes’ research areas are the criminal legal system and monetary sanctions. She is here to help

facilitate the conversation and provide some framework for discussion of the data.

• The aim of the conversation today is to discuss community needs regarding public safety and wellness.

The speakers will present what we know based on data that is available. We will then discuss remaining questions and further data needs.

   To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.


Criminal Justice Data Presentation – Jeremy Morton. Jeremy is a systems analyst and supports specialized crisis programs and other units.

Preview of the take-home points:

• The systems are complex. The interactions between the justice system, medical system, and

emergency services are not well understood at the global level.

• The work that has been done by specialized crisis programs, such as GRACE (Ground-level Response

and Coordinated Engagement) and LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), gives some insight. We can expand our body of knowledge by gathering additional information from various sources to make informed decisions across the county.

• The ability to look at multiple systems in a systematic and consistent way is new in this county and in the U.S.


• Most of the data systems evolved in their own silos. While they interact, they were not designed to

work together. We are asking these systems to do something that they were not designed to do – like

asking a toaster to make a martini.

• At this time, we have an incomplete picture of what is going on in the county.


• Work has been going on in the county to create a community health information system that crosses

silos and integrates data for people who interact with multiple systems.

• We have a repository of fire and EMS data and are integrating information from the St. Joes’ ER and

looking at jail bookings in a systematic way.

Limitations of Available Data

• Interviews with subject matter experts have helped with data interpretation.

• The scale of what law enforcement reacts to is enormous. 911 calls for police include behavioral health

(BH) issues, accidents and incidents that range from “mid-risk and mid-skill” from a law enforcement

perspective, to serious crimes that are “high-risk and skill.”

• There is a lot of variance in the way terms are used and how the many different types of calls are

coded and represented in the data, and the information is incomplete.

• The data presented is from 2019 and 2020 specific to the Bellingham Police Dept. and the Sheriff’s

office, and it looks at a fraction of the ~33,000 reports coming from the Computer Aided Dispatch

(CAD) system.

• Law enforcement doesn’t make reports on all contacts (15% of CAD records have a corresponding

report), and demographic information isn’t always obtained by EMS and law enforcement.

• There are tremendous challenges in reconciling all the information and drawing meaningful conclusions from incidents involving multiple agencies. Each reports an incident differently.

What We Know from Specialized Crisis Programs Data

• What is new, as of Feb. 2021, is looking at an individual’s journey across systems. The website: http://www.respondwhatcom.org/ presents details of this work.

• In 2014, attention focused on people who were interacting with EMS at a high rate (100+ times/yr.) for appropriate and inappropriate reasons and were not showing improvement. A paramedic began interacting with these folks to identify ways to reduce utilization. Now there are ~13 specialized crisis service providers across multiple programs.

• A “cycle of crisis” was identified with people impacting multiple organizations and not improving.


• With expansion of specialized crisis programs, an intensive case manager identifies and addresses reasons for individuals’ cycle of crisis. This has been very successful at reducing EMS utilization.

• Since 2014, ~770 people have been served by specialized crisis programs. EMS saw ~16,000 individuals last year, so specialized crisis programs serve a fraction of the population that uses multiple systems.

• Looking at the types of services graduates from programs have used, the top four are: medical and physical health, mental health, homelessness/housing, substance use.

• The GRACE program was not intended to be a legal diversion program, but it has had that impact.

• Folks experiencing crisis interact with the justice system, but the ways they enter in and leave the

system are very complex and difficult to navigate. It is infinitely harder if a person has mental or physical health issues (Example: Medicaid insurance is lost when someone enters jail, and it takes 1-2 weeks for it to be turned back on when the person is released).

• The Competency Determination Process (how a court determines if person is competent to stand trial) illustrates the complexities. The process can take weeks to years.

• There are so many interacting histories and policies and funding sources that make it hard to answer a seemingly simple question such as how many people are in the jail system at any given time.

• Events and decisions made outside of the county have had a big influence on the jail population (e.g., opening the work center in 2011, various state policies, and COVID).

• The county jail is accredited by the NCCHC. It’s the gold standard for medical care in a law enforcement setting.

• The County had a 2021 budget for ~$3 mil./yr. for medical care provided in corrections facilities.

• There are so many conflicting methodologies in medical records, it is hard to go back in time and get

consistent data.

• On average, there are ~3700 mental health referrals in the jail per year. In 2021 there were 575

psychiatric visits and 575 who received medically assisted treatment for addiction recovery. The reality

is that healthcare is being provided in the jail.

• Some people in specialized programs or in the jail are not going to recover. The best that can be done

may be to help them die with dignity.

• While the effort is to look across systems, we need to remember that we are talking about individuals.

• The community paramedicine program has resulted in ending cycles of crisis for individuals.

• The Respond Whatcom program is working to create a no-wrong-door way into the system.

• Going from the individual to the system level and comparing 12 months pre-engagement in specialized

crisis programs to 12 months post-graduation, we see a 90%+ reduction in EMS contacts.

• When engaged with GRACE, this population’s bookings in jail decreased significantly (97%).

• An EMS runs cost $1400 per run and about $5200 per transport. EMS has funding to cover costs for

services for people who can’t pay.

• Jail services are ~$55/booking. Some costs go to the individual and some to municipalities. The costs

for these services get passed to taxpayers.

• When we look at the system as a whole, we know we don’t have all the info from the ER, and are

looking at about 4% of the annual EMS population, but we see dramatic reductions in service utilization and costs for people engaged in specialized crisis programs.

Presentation Conclusions – Alexes

• The broad question: What are the health, wellness and public safety needs of your community?

• We have seen the complexity of the system.

• The work done by specialized crisis programs establishes that individuals do impact multiple systems.


• The work that law enforcement and the jail are doing is addressing social problems these systems weren’t designed to address.

• From looking at the small sample of 15% of cases engaged with these specialized crisis programs, we know the programs work and reduce the number of long-term stays in jail and the costs of jail stays.

• Much more information is needed before drawing countywide conclusions.

• The process of combining multiple systems is new.

• The next steps: Integrate ER utilization with superior/county court outcomes and law enforcement

interactions to be able to trace people through the systems.

• Phase 2 will review the findings with subject matter experts, and work collaboratively, using evidence-

based decision making, to generate an informed assessment. Then generate recommendations that have the best impact on individuals and, by extension, the county system as a whole.

Questions, Answers, and Discussion: SAC members were invited to ask questions and identify themes in the information they heard. Questions, answers and comments by SAC members and presenters are summarized below.

Questions & Data Requests

• Look at the cases of people referred by law enforcement for criminal charges who aren’t booked into jail (the majority) and then may or may not work their way through the court system. That would indicate the efficacy of efforts to reduce the jail population.

• Who is currently in jail and not being diverted (i.e., Who is not included in the GRACE & LEAD programs)?

• What is the average length of stay for different charges?

• What are the top charges?

• Are there more opportunities for diversion?

• How much would it cost to increase the capacity of GRACE & LEAD?

• We need information relevant to the jail location.

• Look at recidivism data and repeating offenses to see whether our programs are working for those types of offenses.

• What other communities are doing a great job with data collection and analysis?

• Look at impacts on the jail population of social factors such as housing costs, overall population size,

percent employment, cost of healthcare and other services.

o Could look across the state at the jail population over time, and at fluctuations in various

social factors. Do statistical analysis contrasting Whatcom Cty. with other counties. • Include data from the tribes and other municipalities in the county.

Strategies and Opportunities for Addressing Data Gaps

• The next steps for the Criminal Justice Data Team include looking at the 85% of cases that aren’t included in the data analysis yet.

• We need collaboration and cooperation among community partners to get access to data, start analyzing it, and identify ways to make data gathering efforts more effective.

o Data system modernizations are being done by Whatcom Cty. IT now.

o Could build this initial effort at analyzing data across systems into a larger community

informational exchange.


Additional Available Data

• The Health Dept. has information from periodic BH needs assessments.

• Heather Flaherty (Chuckanut Health Foundation) has compiled a library of community reports to share

(Posted to SAC website – link).

• City of Bellingham periodically does surveys of a few thousand residents.

• The Sequential Intercept Model (SIM), which is part of the NACO Stepping Up Initiative, will provide a

robust view of where our gaps are – what services we have, what we need more of, and what we don’t


• A company called Recidiviz looks at recidivism rates and data across an entire criminal justice system

to see what policy decisions have impacts on communities. Addressing Gaps in Services

• Need hospital beds and services for people with serious mental illness who are violent, difficult to treat, refusing medications.

• Need new and more programs along the continuum of acuity.

• More in-patient treatment services, including for substance use disorder and mental health.

• Right-size existing programs that we know work (e.g., GRACE & LEAD).

• Address lack of affordable housing which has big impact on people exiting the jail.

• Increase BH workforce – we need a pipeline of BH workers to prop up programs.

o There are state and regional processes with funds to address the workforce gap.

• Need new treatment options for street drugs (meth, fentanyl, etc.). That is a causal factor for some


Suggested Strategies for Moving Forward

• Focus on the questions we need answered and determine exactly what information we need to accomplish our goals.

o We have to discuss how we parcel out all the work we have touched on. The SAC recommendations have to come out pretty soon and focus on some but not all of this. Some of this work will bounce to the IPRTF, or rest with the County Council. We ought to plan the longer-term series of steps we have identified.

o Our goal is to come up with recommendations that will go before voters next Nov. We have to put parameters on what we’re doing. Figure out what a facility should look like, and come up with BH interventions and treatment pre-arrest, and upon release from the facility.

• A lot of the issues are larger than this county can handle. Approach people at higher levels.

o Start getting state representatives and senators involved sooner rather than later.

o Look into other state or county systems and possible funding sources.

o Could find colleagues in other counties and create a state coalition to address these issues


o Advocate for federal funding.

• Adapt programs from other places to meet our needs.

• Create an online jail data dashboard.

• Rather than increasing the current jail capacity by x percent, create a public safety and wellness center

to decrease the numbers of people who would be routed to a jail cell.



• Alexes – Four main points

1. There are a host of complex issues and structures.

2. There is a host of data needs.

3. There is a clear need to address social issues, but we need to figure out which of these to

address within our scope. Can this new facility address some of these social problems?

4. This is an exciting moment for us to do this work.

• Barry – We will work with the IPRTF on summarizing the needs. Our output will be a holistic needs assessment report of the findings of this committee’s work. It will address capacity, location, services, and gaps. Hope for consensus on location, size, services, what the facility needs to offer, and what community services will offer and how to meld these two together to make an effective, holistic program.

Wrap-up – Holly & Barry

• Talk to 3 people about what you are hearing and learning about and get their input.

• SAC members are invited to the Apr. 19 joint BH and Legal & Justice Committee meeting as


• The next SAC meeting is June 8.



SAC Members encouraged to participate. (attendance optional)

Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force: Joint Meeting of the Behavioral Health Committee

and the Legal and Justice Committee

Meeting Summary for April 19, 2022

Agenda item links to YouTube video are functional at the time this meeting summary was created, however, YouTube links may change. Links in this document will not be updated. Please refer to the time notation on each agenda item.


1. Call to Order

Committee Chair Dan Hammill called the meeting to order at 11:32 A.M. The meeting was held via remote-only Zoom Webinar.

Members Present: Chris Cochran, Bill Elfo, Brian Estes, Arlene Feld, Stephen Gockley, Heather Flaherty, Dan Hammill, Deborah Hawley, Mike Hilley, Raylene King, Rhyan Lopez, Jackie Mitchell, Perry Mowery, Mike Parker, Darlene Peterson, Flo Simon, Donnell Tanksley, Courtney Taylor, Brien Thane, Louise Trapp (for Eric Richey), Bruce Van Glubt, Maia Vanyo

Members Absent: Nathan Bajema, Doug Chadwick, Seth Fleetwood, David Freeman, Michael G. Smith Members of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee were invited to attend and participate in this meeting

2. 2022 Annual Report to County Council & County Executive (00:01:38)

Jill Nixon, Legislative Coordinator, told committee members that the list of topics to be included in the

report is available to them in their packet. She instructed them to send any additions or changes to her.

3. Update on the Sequential Intercept Service Inventory and Reentry Services (held from March meeting) (00:04:20)

Items three and four on the agenda were combined into one discussion.

Parker gave an overview of what the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) is and what the update process is looking like. Mowery provided an explanation of the work his Behavioral Health Gap Analysis group is doing to update the SIM as well as a timeline of expected completion.

Committee members added additional background information about how the SIM is formulated and what services are included for the benefit of Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) members who were in attendance.

Discussion ensued between committee members and SAC members. Participants spoke on topics including:

• Estes said that his organization, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Washington, is working to form a Clubhouse International model in the area, which might help to address some of the programs that are identified as needed but not yet in existence.

• Brel Froebe, SAC member, asked if the SIM would be available for review before the update is complete. Mowery said that he could make the current version available with the understanding that it is a working document.

• The definition of re-entry services, when those services might be offered, and the importance of those services to prevent recidivism.

• Where programs are or should be physically located. Members discussed the benefits and drawbacks of housing services within a justice center compared to elsewhere in the community.

Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force: Joint Meeting of the Behavioral Health Committee

and the Legal and Justice Committee

Meeting Summary for April 19, 2022

Agenda item links to YouTube video are functional at the time this meeting summary was created, however, YouTube links may change. Links in this document will not be updated. Please refer to the time notation on each agenda item.


• •

• •

• •

Gaps in

• •

• •

• •

What treatments are currently provided at the jail. Mitchell reported that they are very limited in terms of space and are not able to provide as much as they would like.

Re-entry protocols for treatment centers, including admittance to treatment for competency restoration and the next steps after restoration is complete.

o Jason Smith, SAC member and public defense contractor, described the difference between substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and competency restoration. Vanyo and Jones expanded on the competency restoration process and the delays that often occur.

Jones stated that expediting the steps post-competency restoration would be very beneficial so that individuals don’t decompensate and have to start the process again. King pointed out the hinderances to this, which had previously been identified by Vanyo.

Individuals charged with a misdemeanor are not subject to the Trueblood decision so competency restoration takes longer. They are also more likely to be in the community instead of in jail awaiting trial. Due to the extended timeline and other factors, King described the creation of a revolving door effect that often ends in individuals committing higher level crimes and ending up in jail or Western State Hospital.

The restoration process is extremely confusing, overwhelming, and traumatizing for those in the system, especially if they are experiencing mental health issues.

Mowery and Mitchell summarized the new Response Systems Division and the work that the Recovery Navigators will be doing.

services identified included:

Navigators who work between systems and can identify gaps.

Smith said that he would see a benefit in having an on staff social worker on his team in the offices of public defenders. These employees would be able to coordinate with clients and guide them to available services. Taylor agreed that the public defense system needs more social workers and mental health professionals.

Options to pursue recovery outside of incarceration systems.

Inequalities regarding gender and justice. King reported that the Administrative Office of the Courts had a lot of information and resources on this subject.

o Accurate and complete data collection is key

o There is a need for childcare for justice-involved individuals

o Civil attorneys need to be available for those without access to one, for example

domestic violence victims with children

Barriers to free services. Not all individuals may know what services are available to them, whether they are incarcerated or not. They also may not have transportation to access those services.

Navigators to provide a warm hand-off during re-entry. These are needed for both those with mental health issues and those without.

Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force: Joint Meeting of the Behavioral Health Committee

and the Legal and Justice Committee

Meeting Summary for April 19, 2022

Agenda item links to YouTube video are functional at the time this meeting summary was created, however, YouTube links may change. Links in this document will not be updated. Please refer to the time notation on each agenda item.


• Skill development. Job training for incarcerated individuals. Lopez brought up the Sustainability in Prisons program.

• Delayed treatment is poor treatment. We need more staff and beds should be available at all times.

Suggested action proposed included:

• Surveying the national landscape of re-entry navigation to see what program models have shown to be effective elsewhere. Members discussed how programs from other jurisdictions across the country are researched and the usefulness of basing local programs on other successful models.

• Research on efficacy of mandated programming. SAC member Brel Froebe asked if requiring participation in services as a condition of sentencing or release would be effective. Committee members discussed this in terms of effectiveness and legality.

• Looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion issues currently effecting systems of incarceration. Progress already made and in process were discussed.

• Improving food at the jail which could have an impact on overall health of incarcerated people.

• Looking into “jail without walls” model, such as an outpatient boot camp-type program as an

option for some offenders.

• Presentations to the SAC are needed to further explain the Ground-level Response and

Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs.

4. Other Business

There was no other business.

5. Public Comment (01:26:43)

Joy Gilfilen of the Restorative Community Coalition spoke on the importance of prevention and the work her coalition has been doing to study issues related to incarceration prevention and reduction. She also spoke to the need for community input especially from those who interact with the system. She encouraged committee members to look at the documents she recently submitted to the Task Force.

6. Adjourn

The meeting adjourned at 1:03 P.M.


SAC Members encouraged to participate (attendance optional)

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project SAC Group Discussion #4 – Behavioral Health Tuesday, May 17, 2022

2:00 – 3:00 pm

Meeting Summary

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/66741/Meeting-Summary—SAC-Group-Discussion-4—May-17-2022–Behav-health ]

SAC Participants: Arlene Feld, Atul Deshmane, Barry Buchanan, Brel Froebe, Brooke Eolande, Cliff Langley, Daron Smith, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, David Goldman, Doug Chadwick, Eric Richey, Erika Lautenbach, Heather Flaherty, Harriet Markell, Kendra Cook, Kristin Hanna, Maialisa Vanyo, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Mike Parker, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Scott Korthuis, Stephen Gockley

Presenters/Data Team: Daniel Hammill, Malora Christensen, Tommy McAuliffe, Judge Lee Grochmal, Prosecutor Eric Richey

Absent SAC Members: Jack Hovenier, Chad Butenschoen, John Mutchler, Deborah Hawley, Eli Wainman, Kara Mitchell, Satpal Sidhu/Tyler Schroeder, Seth Fleetwood/Brian Heinrich, Anthony Hillaire, Katrice Rodriguez/Rick George, Flo Simon

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Welcome – Daniel Hammill

Presentation on Whatcom County Response Systems Division – Malora Christensen, Tommy McAuliffe

     A video

– – – – – – –

was played highlighting the programs of the Response Systems Division, including:

Crisis Stabilization Center,

Ground Level Response and Coordinated Engagement (GRACE) program, Law-Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program.

Mobile Crisis Outreach Team (MCOT)

Sheriff Co-Responder Team

The Way Station

Contract and Program Support

o CrisisStabilization o JailRe-Entry

o Prevention

A new website http://www.RespondWhatcom.org has more information about the different programs the county offers.

A presentation continued with details on the division’s work including:


o Launched in 2018 and serves 80-100 community members at any one time

o Members had a 97% reduction in EMS contact,85%reduction in jail bookings and 62%

reduction in ED visits

o Intensive case management is offered.

o Case managers partner with paramedics and law enforcement.

o There is one ARNP on the team.

o Create community support plans for clients and provide transportation to services. 

o Small case loads around10-20 so they can provide intensive case management.


o Launched in 2020 and is focused on clients with low level offences.

o It is a public health approach to public safety.

o Intensive case management addresses the immediate and longterm needs of clients. 

o LEAD has 4 intensive case managers and 1 outreach coordinator. Program is expanding

in 2022 to add a fifth case manager and 2 outreach coordinators.

• Mental Health Court

o Designed to provide wrap around services.

o Clients need to have current legal charge, high likelihood for further legal charges

without interventions, and a willingness to engage in care and wellness.

• Alternative Response Team (ART) (Bellingham only)

o Starting in 2022 as a City of Bellingham pilot

o ART will be deployed as an alternative to Law Enforcement, deployed by a mobile

outreach crisis team triage specialist, directly via 911 dispatch. o 988rollout–crisis hotline

• Co-Response (county service)

o New program partnering MentalHealthProfessionals with Behavioral Health Deputies

(County Sheriff’s Office) o Responding to 911calls

• First Responder Training

o Online platform built for first responders and social service providers.

o Training on behavioral health and the system of services available locally 

o 5-hour training funded by the Whatcom Community Foundation

o Available at the end of 2022

The following questions regarding the Response Systems Division were discussed and answered.

• The program received funding through the Recovery Navigator Program funding. How much money is there from this legislation.

o The Blake Decision changed the way prosecution could charge for possession of drugs. For Counties that don’t have a LEAD program, the funding is available to start a recovery navigator program. For counties that already have a program, the funding supports an expansion of the LEAD program. Whatcom LEAD only serves adults. As the program is expanded the County will be able to serve minors as well.

• What programs are mandatory and how does that impact efficacy? Do you have ways to project how these programs impact incarceration reduction?

o Alltheseprogramsarevoluntary.Ourteamhastodorelationshipbuildingtoencourage people to engage in services.

o The only program that is involuntary is the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team.The crisis system has the ability to involuntary detain someone when they meet the threshold.

o Diversion is what many of the programs work to achieve.

o Outcome data can be a guide as they move forward. Many factors impact incarceration

reduction, and it could be a combination of LEAD or GRACE with booking restriction

changes. Outcomes work well when there is coordination among programs.

• The Health Dept receives funding for drug court, which is passed to the court system that runs

it. Traditionally, the Health Dept runs mental health court and drug court is run by the court

system. The Response Systems Division coordinates with drug court.

• Would there be a benefit to expanding the behavioral health deputy program?

o Need at least 4 BH trained officers to pair with mental health professionals.The co- responder model works very well.

Presentation on Behavioral Health in the Criminal Justice System – Judge Lee Grochmal, Prosecutor Eric Richey

• Judge Grochmal presides over felony drug court in Superior Court and does regular rounds on the criminal calendar in Superior Court.

• The Thursday morning criminal calendar every week from 8:30-noon is where she hears motions on criminal charges for those in custody.

• There is a large percentage of people that have issues with competency to stand trial, waiting for evaluations or restoration services and are incompetent to stand trial.

• Roughly 40% of the criminal calendar are people held in jail with cases going nowhere because they are waiting for competency stage, and they not receiving care in the jail.

• Drug Court is lacking an ability to keep people detained so they can detox. Currently, people can walk away. We need a new jail and my dream would be to have a lock and key detox facility. There’s not enough detox in our community.

The following questions were discussed:

• What is the drug court capacity, and how much more capacity does it need?

o It is not at capacity and I would like to see it at capacity.One reason is booking

restrictions. People released with drug addiction are terrible decision-makers.

• What does a locked detox facility look like and where is it located?

o Ideallyitwouldnotbeconnectedtothejailphysically.Becausethedetoxisnexttothe jail work center there is a reluctance to go as people fear they will be incarcerated.

• Any additional questions for the judges can be emailed directly to judges

• How has the Blake Decision affected drug court?

o It’snolongerafelonytopossesscontrolledsubstances.Peoplewithonlypossession charges were removed from drug court and were enjoying the support and felt nervous about going off on their own. Disappointed to lose some people from the program.

• Where do you see holes in the system?

o Havingbehavioralhealthservicesinthejailisneeded.Correctionalofficersareputina

difficult position and we ask a lot of them.

o We should have a safe and clean place where officers can work. Presentation by Prosecutor Richey

• Crime rates are concerning. Community is upset about property crime, which is increasing.

• Crime is up in Washington for vehicle thefts by 95% since the reform laws from 2021.

• People booked and released. When they are released, they are committing more crime.

• We have a lot of mental health problems and addiction in our community. People are not being

cared for as they need to be but they are also committing crimes.

• LEAD started in Prosecutor’s office and found a good home in the Rapid Response Division.

• Reducing recidivism is important to keeping our community safe. Making sure people have

accountability when they are committing crime is also important SAC Members discussed the following questions with the presenters:

• What do you see as a gap, or if you could have one program what would that be?

o We need involuntary treatment because some people will not accept treatment


• Creating an umbrella that’s intended to capture GRACE and LEAD – is that what the Whatcom

County division of the Health Department is all about?

o It’s about coordination and when we are able to have the same leadership and

coordination among the programs it allows us to do it well.

o When we did GRACE and LEAD we knew we were missing parts (more immediate

response) because MCOT couldn’t get out there fast enough.

• Will there be work done to see to what extent the services are duplicative and what functions

produce the highest benefit to the community? How can we oversee and maintain measures of what’s working?

o Thecreationoftheresponsedivisionspeakstotheissue.Itprovidesthestaffsupports for each other, the flow of information, and the collection of data.

• The New York Times had an article indicating that Involuntary treatment is not effective – how does that apply to the work being done in our community?

o The discussion is not only drug treatment but also mental health treatment that is involuntary. Finding a place that is safe and providing some treatment.

• Our jail is full as a result of people awaiting competency hearings and trial delays for a couple of years. We have an increase in property crimes. Poverty, substance use, opportunity, peer group pressure are factors that increase property crime – not a full jail. As we consider recommendations, how much opportunity is there for the SAC to recommend services outside the jail and is that part of the suite of recommendations to include in the needs assessment?

o We will get into a more detailed discussion of the gaps we are finding in the behavioral health and substance abuse side when Perry Mowery opens discussions at the June meeting.

• Don’t you need a civil order for an involuntary health treatment, and if so why are we talking about that treatment being administered in the jail?

o It is a civil issue. I am not suggesting a mental health facility be part of our jail, but it’s something our community needs. We don’t have enough space in our voluntary mental health facilities. People are being left on the streets because there is not enough space.

• If you don’t have room in your jail, you are giving people a lot of opportunity for crime.

• We need to build many facilities as part of the solution and physical separation from the jail is

more than symbolically important.

• Two behavioral health deputies have been valuable. We struggle with staffing coverage, and we

hope to expand the program.

Wrap up by Daniel Hammill

  • We have more ground to cover in behavioral health. SAC Members agreed to meet one more time in the next month or two. We are gathering the pieces and then assembling the pieces. If there are specific areas of interest you would like to discuss at another meeting, please email sac@co.whatcom.wa.us.


 SAC attendance required

 Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/67762/SAC-Mtg-3-Meeting-Summary—June-8-2022 ]

SAC Participants: Barry Buchanan, Teresa Bosteter, Arlene Feld, Cliff Langley, Stephen Gockley, RB Tewksbury, Michael Lilliquist, Satpal Sidhu, Starck Follis, Scott Korthuis, Doug Chadwick, Brian Heinrich, Bill Elfo, David Goldman, Jack Hovenier, Maialisa Vanyo, Eve Smason-Marcus, Kristin Hanna, Daron Smith, Darlene Peterson, Tyler Schroeder, Erika Lautenbach, Eric Richey, Dan Hammill, Brooke Eolande, Brel Froebe, Kendra Cook, Heather Flaherty, Kara Allen, Atul Deshmane, Mary Lou Steward, Peter Frazier, Seth Fleetwood

Presenters, Behavioral Health Gap Analysis Team: Perry Mowery (SAC member), Dean Wight, Jackie Mitchell, Mike Parker

Other BHGAT Members: Tommy McAuliffe, Mike Hilley, Gail de Hoog, Joe Fuller

Other: Wendy Jones

Support: Holly O’Neil, facilitator; Mardi Solomon, notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment report writer

Absent SAC Members: Chad, Butenschoen, Rick George, Katrice Rodriguez, Deborah Hawley, Anthony Hillaire, Harriet Markell, Jon Mutchler, Eli Wainman

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair

● Welcome new members: Eve Smason-Marcus, Eric Richey, Teresa Bosteter, Stark Follis & Maialisa Vanyo

(sharing Public Defenders Office seat)

● Focus of this meeting is on the research the Behavioral Health Gap Analysis Team (BHGAT) has been


• The 4th SAC meeting will be on July 14. This will be an interactive work session.

• The 5th meeting will focus on facilities.

SAC Process Overview & Agenda Review – Holly O’Neil, Crossroads Consulting, Facilitator

Review of why we are here, and what we are aiming to accomplish – Stephen Gockley, IPRTF Co-Chair

• Acknowledge the SAC’s good work to date, engaging with the Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task

Force (IPRTF) committee co-chairs in complex conversations to understand the committees’ work, and

hearing about the criminal legal system data presented in the second SAC meeting.

• The SAC’s responsibilities are to:

o Inform ourselves and learn from subject matter experts 

o Collaborate with the IPRTF

o Provide input to guide the needs assessment process

o Contribute to the creation of a needs assessment report


• Ultimately, the Council will put forward a ballot initiative to fund the Justice Project’s recommendations to reform the criminal legal system.

• Stephen reviewed the Guiding Principles that the County handed down to the SAC in the form of a Resolution 2019-036.

• The County and IPRTF have joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and use the guidance in the Racial Equity Toolkit. This will inform the SAC’s work as well.

Introduction of Presenters – Barry Buchanan

• Mike Parker – Manager of Housing & Healthcare Integration, Opportunity Council

• Jackie Mitchell – Behavioral Health Program Specialist, Health Dept.

• Perry Mowery – Behavioral Health & Special Projects Supervisor, Health Dept.

• Dean Wight – Special Projects Manager, Health Dept.

Behavioral Health Presentation

About the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) – Mike Parker, IPRTF Behavioral Health Committee Co-Chair

• Goals of today’s presentation:

o Focus on people with mental health and substance use disorders who are involved with the

criminal legal system.

o UnderstandtheSIM

o Learn how the SIM has been used to identify gaps in the criminal legal system. o Begin prioritizing programs and services that can reduce the jail census.

• What the SIM is:

o In the early 2000’s Munetz, Griffin, & Steadman created the SIM.

o The SIM is a conceptual model that has been used across the country to see how people with

mental health and substance use disorders flow through intercepts in the criminal legal system. o The SIM is a useful tool for listing and prioritizing interventions and identifying service gaps.

• The SIM is not a laundry list of all services. It is targeting services for people with mental health and

substance use disorders involved in the legal system.

• The IPRTF used the SIM to inventory programs and wrote up the results in the Service Inventory and

Strategic Plan in 2018-19. The BHGAT’s work being presented today is the most significant update of the

SIM since then.

• How to read the SIM:

o The columns represent intercepts–The places people may interact with law enforcement/criminal legal system.

o Originally, there were five intercepts. Communities using the SIM, including Whatcom County’s IPRTF, added Intercept 0 to capture community-based incarceration prevention programs.

o The rows/tiers present programs and services like an asset map. Tier A is programs/services that are in place. Programs in Tier B are in place but don’t have enough resources (capacity, staff, funding). Tier C is the wish list – programs and services identified by stakeholders as important that we don’t have in our community.

• An Addendum to the SIM was created to capture policy issues, and processes for improving systems. Behavioral Health Services for People in the Criminal Legal System – Jackie Mitchell

• Tier A of the SIM consists of behavioral health programs and services in place. Some are under development but imminent. A lot of these programs are best practice, evidence-based, and innovative. They all have shown positive outcomes here or in other communities.


• A 2016 statewide study by the DSHS Research and Data Analysis Division looked at 2013 booking data from jails all over the state. It showed the incidence of people needing mental health treatment (58%), substance use disorder treatment (61%), and those with co-occurring disorders (41%). This high acuity level has evolved over the past few years and is related to the state shutting down behavioral health programs they run and not resourcing communities enough to take on those programs.

• Whatcom County Jail 2022 data shows a high incidence of people with mental illness (42%) and substance use disorders (80%). In April, 50% of people were on psychotropic medications. The average wait for competency restoration is 55 days.

• The Whatcom County Health Dept. is working to centralize behavioral health programs (GRACE, LEAD, Alternative Response) and has created the Response Systems Division. The goals are for people to be able to access services through any door, and warm handoffs between providers. This requires a deep level of coordination between community partners, and shared/transparent data. Over time, the hope is to fill the gaps in the behavioral health system.

The Process of Updating the SIM – Perry Mowery

• The BHGAT was made up of 13 subject matter experts.

• The BHGAT met weekly for about 3 months to work on updating the IPRTF’s 2019-20 SIM and Addendum.

• The criteria for including programs/services in the SIM:

o Target population is youth and adults who are experiencing mental and/or substance use disorders and are at risk or already involved with the criminal legal system.

o Included programs designed to prevent involvement in criminal legal system, and support exit from the system.

o Also looked at programs/services for people who may not have behavioral health issues but are struggling with housing, education, employment, and/or relationship challenges to help them prevent further involvement in criminal legal system.

• In the update, no items were removed from the original SIM, though some programs were moved to different tiers. Programs started since 2019-20 were added to the SIM, and programs that don’t exist but are needed were added to Tier C.

• Material from appendices to the original SIM were incorporated into the SIM update.

• The SIM Update was sent to 13 groups along with a survey and request for review. Received 21 responses

and this input was incorporated.

• The SIM is a living document and updates will continue. Further review is needed by the SAC, IPRTF, and

other community groups.

Q & A about the SIM (Q=Question; A=Answer; C=Comment)

Q: To what degree are the items on the SIM always sequential?

A: Mike Parker – We hope that we’ve designed programs that forestall movement to later intercepts. There are

programs working at more than one intercept because we need interventions at multiple intercepts.

A: Stephen Gockley – An example is in intercept 3. Drug Court (DC) is an intervention which diverts people into

treatment instead of incarceration. The DC team found that a challenge was where to house people while they were in DC. If people were in their old environment, they were less likely to succeed in the DC program and more likely to be incarcerated. The IPRTF worked with partners to start housing people in the Meridian St. detox housing. This also is important in intercept 5. When people succeed in the DC program, they still need support to keep them from re-abusing substances and re-offending.

Q: If it’s not a literal sequence, what are we describing? The middle intercepts seem more standard, but the services at the far ends of SIM are softer and more humane (things you do to nurture people and give them skills). I don’t think “sequence” is the right way to describe it. The six categories are meaningful, but how to understand the relationship between them?


A: Dean Wight – In real life, the experience of individuals isn’t linear when they are caught up in the criminal legal system. The SIM is a way to organize our thinking and interventions around points when one might prevent or forestall future involvement in the criminal legal system.

A: Dan Hammill – We didn’t name this tool. It was developed by researchers at Policy Resource Assoc. We use it as a way of understanding and organizing programs we have in the community and to understand where interventions can be used to help people out of the system.

Q: How is more input into the SIM being solicited? I would love this group to have more discussion around this. A: Perry – We hope that SAC members will be directly involved in giving input. Surveys are a convenient way to

get input. Soliciting input will continue into future SIM updates.

A: Holly – After this meeting, we will send out a survey to SAC members to provide input on the SIM.

C: Dan – The SIM doesn’t account for the impacts of external factors on people’s involvement with the criminal legal system (e.g., Blake decision, Long v. Seattle). We need to think about how those things impact services on the SIM.

C: Mike Parker: The input from listening sessions done by Exec. Sidhu was extremely valuable and also informed the SIM update.

How the SIM Can Be Used to Identify Gaps and Make Recommendations – Dean Wight

• The focus is on people who are at risk or already involved in the criminal legal system.

• We are looking specifically at Tier B – existing programs/services that don’t have sufficient resources or

capacity; and Tier C – programs/services that don’t exist in this community but would be of value.

• The BHGAT reviewed all SIM items in Tiers B and C and ranked them 1, 2, or 3, with 1 being the gaps of

highest priority to address, and with greatest potential impact the jail census.

• This is not to discount the importance of the other services on the SIM which have other helpful


• This ranking is not a done deal. There will be continued solicitation of input as this process continues.

• The BHGAT grouped those service gaps they ranked #1 as having the highest priority into four general

categories by type of service: Community-based, Jail-based, Reentry, and Post-incarceration. These groups of service gaps often impact more than one intercept point in the SIM model.

• Four #1 community-based needs/gaps: (Intercepts 0 & 1, and also intercept 5)

o There is insufficient timely access to mental health and substance use disorder (SUD)

assessments, on demand, without needing to wait days or weeks for that assessment.

o The jail census is also impacted by the lack of community SUD treatment, both as a way of

diverting persons from contact with the criminal legal system, and as a way of preventing future

involvement following re-entry into the community.

o We lack sufficient capacity in the Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) for those

who have severe and persistent mental illness, including those who also have a SUD.

o The time it takes Designated Crisis Responders to respond to Law Enforcement calls for potential

detention of a person with mental illness often is not fast enough to avoid arrest and incarceration.

• Four #1 jail-based needs/gaps: (Intercepts 2 & 3)

o While in jail, inmates lack sufficient access to Intensive Case Managers who can offer meaningful

support and treatment while incarcerated, and collaborate in post-release service planning.

o There is lack of access to timely competency restoration services, resulting in excessively lengthy

pre-trial jail stays (55 days on avg.).

o Inmates need more timely access to mental health and SUD assessments that are timely, on

demand with no waiting.


o While there is no clear evidence-based practice yet, there is a critical need for treatment for methamphetamine dependence in the jail setting.

▪ A side note: In SIM Tier C, the need for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) & Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) was given a high priority. We recently learned there is a new grant funding these services for approx. 100 inmates. These services have now been removed from Tier C. This work is dynamic and changing!

o All these service needs require adequate space within the jail.

• Two #1 reentry needs/gaps: (Intercept 4)

o There is insufficient staff to aid in supporting people from incarceration into the community.

o There continues to be a delay in reinstating Medicaid insurance benefits as eligible persons are

released from jail, resulting in delays in post-release behavioral health and medical treatment services.

• Three #1 post-incarceration needs/gaps: (Intercept 5 and also intercept 0)

o There is a lack of sufficient Permanent Supportive Housing, which is defined as having 24/7

staffing and on-site clinical support for people with behavioral health issues.

o Dedicated housing is essential for people diverted from prosecution through therapeutic courts. o Residential treatment is particularly needed for people with methamphetamine dependence. It is

particularly problematic that there is no effective, evidence-based treatment for people with this SUD, which is highly correlated with criminal legal system involvement.

Questions & Discussion (Q=Question; A=Answer; C=Comment)

Review each of the four groups of #1 priority needs/gaps and ask two questions:

1. Do these needs/gaps match your sense of what the priorities are?

2. Are there other high priority needs/gaps that you think are more important to consider?

Community-based needs/gaps

Q: Sometimes people aren’t willing to accept mental health and SUD treatment. How to get them in if they won’t accept treatment, and what percent don’t accept it.

A: Jackie Mitchell – Anecdotally, about 30% of people in jail refuse behavioral health services. Took this into account in trying to determine how many people we could serve in behavioral health programs. Unsure about the percent who refuse services in other intercepts.

A: David Goldman – My experience as a teacher at the jail has been that if I ask about desire for education they say no, until I get them in a class and build rapport. We are developing a way of asking inmates questions about what they want. We can try to find out about that.

A: Dean – In the community, if an assessment can be done at that moment where the person is in crisis, ideally where they are without them having to take two buses to get to a facility, there is a much greater likelihood they will accept the intervention because they recognize they are in a crisis.

C: Erika Lautenbach – We could benefit from gap analyses in all systems. Struggle with the priorities and time horizon we are using to think about potential involvement in the criminal legal system. We are thinking about imminent involvement, but it is a philosophical question about where we start, as there are underlying factors that may result in involvement with the criminal legal system 20-30 years in the future. Unless we start thinking about the earlier time horizon, we will continue having these conversations without getting to root causes.

C: Arlene Feld – The IPRTF has been addressing prevention all the way along. The state is offering more counselors in the public schools. This is an opportunity, but where are the family counselors?


Also we need a 24/7 urgent care program to provide especially fast assessments. The Crisis Stabilization Center does a good job but it’s limited. Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, and outreach programs want a place to take people who need help right away. Programs that do this aren’t actually 24/7.

A: Perry – The BHGAT added to Tier C, intercept 0 a sobering center and a 24/7 drop in center for persons experiencing homelessness with behavioral health and other needs.

C: Maia Vanyo – Additional gaps: Serious delays in the jail for mental health services. People are on long waitlists before they see a provider. There is a new mental health sentencing alternative available. There are gaps in what can be done to prepare the necessary documentation for someone to participate in that sentencing alternative. It is a very important option. It avoids incarceration and prison sentences, but we don’t have resources to get the psychiatric evaluation services necessary. Lifeline Connections contracts with the jail for mental health services but doesn’t provide that kind of service. It’s an unfunded mandate but could significantly affect our jail population.

There are 2 mental health professionals in the public defenders office but we could use more.

Jail-based needs/gaps

C: Wendy Jones – An additional gap is the backup of the court system. When someone is evaluated about whether they are competent to be part of the criminal legal system, that report goes to the court system. Over the past couple of years, we have seen repeated continuences by the attorneys and the court between the time of the evaluation and when a decision is made. When they get back from the hospital, the same thing will happen and it may be 2-3 months before they go to court. In the interim, often the person will fail to follow the treatment regimen and the jail doesn’t have the ability to compel someone to submit for treatment involuntarily. They decompensate and the whole process has to start again. Out of 19 people who have been in jail for longer than a year, 8 would qualify as seriously mentally ill. It’s not just getting them to restoration, it is the legal process to get the determination and getting the medical diagnosis. There are inadequate resources.

C: Doug Chadwick – Ideally early prevention & early treatment works at intercepts 0 and 1 and people don’t enter the criminal legal system. But those programs don’t work for everyone and some people get arrested and need to be in the jail for public safety. There is a lack of resources within the jail for behavioral health and medical services. A lot comes down to inadequate facilities (space). We should continue to work on resources for lower levels of the intercept model, and we also have to provide an adequate jail and services for people in jail.

C: Cliff Langley – I was a deputy with the Sheriff’s office for 27 years and worked in the jail for 4 years. Was co- chair of “Jail yes” committee to pass a tax for the jail. Want to see a jail built to adequate size to house all these programs we are talking about. Sent an email to the SAC with a video made in 2012 talking about the need for space. Programs got taken away because there wasn’t space in the jail. Also, have a timeline from 1983-2012. It shows the history of the jail, overcrowding, unsafe conditions, programs that have been eliminated. Encourage the SAC to encourage the County Council to put the jail on the ballot this year.

A: Jackie – We do have a reentry Case Mgr. in the jail. The jail wasn’t designed with treatment in mind and we can’t provide quality mental health care talking to people through food hatches in the jail. We have to be able to meet with them in a confidential space. That’s not happening in the jail right now.


Q: Seeking clarification: Is there an issue with a delay in accessing Medicaid after the person is released from jail?

A: Stephen – If you have to start the paperwork to re-enroll in Medicaid at the point you get out of jail, it will take a while for Medicaid coverage to be reinstated, creating a gap during which you can’t access services.

A: Maia – This is a huge problem for the mental health sentencing alternative. PACT is the only program that understands this issue and they will eat the costs for services. None of the other programs (e.g., Unity, SeaMar) will take the people coming out of jail without insurance to cover the services.


A: Jackie – We are starting a Reentry System Coordination meeting. This issue should have been fixed already by a law passed a couple of years ago that allows for people to be made Medicaid-eligible so they are ready the moment they step out the door. This is a systems issue that shouldn’t be happening, but if there is more to it than that, we will come up with that information.

A: Wendy – There is a system set up. The Managed Care Organizations (MCO’s) that manage Medicaid in WA get data from the WA State Assoc. of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The MCO’s are very efficient about pulling data when somebody is booked, but there is a 24-72 hour delay when someone is released before the MCO’s find that data. The system is set up but the system needs to be refined to address the lapse when people get out of jail. There are some people who don’t have Medicaid and reentry specialists in the jail are good at helping people sign up for services.

Q: There are so many services listed on the SIM and I don’t understand what they are (e.g., housing support, peer reentry specialist). Is there a way for those of us who aren’t familiar with the existing programs to find out what they are?

A: Jackie Mitchell – Offered to meet 1-1.

C: David Goldman – A gap on reentry: Inmates say that who picks them up when they are released and where

they go is a major factor in recidivism. Transportation is a gap.

Q: A theme in the recommendations is advocacy. How much has the BHGAT looked at the nature of advocacy? Recognize that the criminal legal system is like a marble maze and people are like marbles. All the people who work in local government have the desire to make system better but they have only limited intercepts. Do we need to focus on persistent advocacy that stops treating people like marbles and starts treating them like people? An example of advocacy: Get someone assigned to look at a person involved in the criminal legal system and follow them along. Someone who doesn’t need to be a lawyer. Someone who is acting in the capacity of advocacy. There are a lot of people who volunteer in this capacity.

A: Michael Lilliquist – DVSAS has an advocacy counseling model. They aren’t counselors or therapists but they walk alongside survivors and are long-term companions with someone through their process.

A: Dean – The GRACE & LEAD programs come closer to this model. They don’t stick within silos of eligibility or stick to one intercept. Advocacy is an element of their services.

A: Maia Vanyo – For people in a pre-trial situation, their attorneys will constrain their communication. Working with the Public Defenders Office and the behavioral health specialists who work there is a productive way to address this. When people are accused of crimes, attorneys advise limiting communication.

A: Starck Follis – We are the advocates. We are on scene within hours or days after someone’s arrest. The practice of public defense has evolved to a more holistic approach. We are involved in more than legal aspects of clients’ lives (e.g., treatment, housing). The problem we have is we have caseload standards set by Olympia. As our practice has expanded, we are involved in more and more aspects of clients’ lives, the standards are unrealistic and the resources are inadequate to provide this holistic approach for the numbers of people. There needs to be resources to cover these issues.





Jack Hovenier – Regarding methamphetamine treatment, there is not a great protocol. Some psychotic- looking behavior is from meth use. It takes a long time for a person with a history of meth use to be able to work and function.

What does permanent supportive housing look like in our community? At NW Youth Services, people are being evicted from permanent supportive housing. Need to be clear what we mean by “permanent supportive housing.” What processes are needed to make sure people stay housed when they need support.

Is there a missing piece that has to do with employment? Are there programs that help people who have a record get a job? That’s one of the challenges of reintegrating.


A: Arlene – In a previous program run by Goodwill there was a strong job training component. The program could have been expanded because a lot of people wanted the training. There are companies willing to take people who have been incarcerated. A list of these is needed.

A: Perry – There were employment supports in the jail, but they seem to have been discontinued.

C: David – In King County they have a “Where to Turn Guide” so a person can find out what services there are and help themselves. Whatcom County doesn’t have a one-stop resource.

C: Mike P. – A theme is that so many people in our jail are homeless. When they discharge who picks them up? Maybe nobody, and where do they go? Housing is critical. Permanent supportive housing should have robust services. This is critical for preventing recidivism.

C: Brel Froebe – An organization in the Bay Area called Planting Justice combines living wage jobs, peer supp, food security. It’s an incredible program with 0 recidivism. Programs that combine all services in a holistic manner are a dream.


• Meeting with IPRTF Behavioral Health Co-chairs – July 7, 2:00-3:00

• SAC meeting #4, July 14, 2:00-4:00 will be a work session.

o 14 people indicated they would be willing to meet in person.

• SAC Homework: Please respond to the post-meeting survey to provide additional thoughts about

needs/gaps and the SIM.

• There is an opportunity to review survey and interview questions to ask people who are incarcerated or

working in the jail.

Adjourn 4:00 pm



SAC attendance is optional

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project SAC GROUP DISCCUSION #5 BEHAVIORAL HEALTH Thursday, July 7, 2022

2:00 – 3:00 pm

Meeting Summary

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/68437/Meeting-Summary—SAC-Group-Discussion-5—July-7-2022-final ]

SAC Members in Attendance: Arlene Feld, Atul Deshmane, Barry Buchanan, Brel Froebe, Brooke Eolande, Cliff Langley, Daniel Hammill, Don Almer (for Rebecca Mertzig), Doug Chadwick, Eric Richey, Erika Lautenbach, Eve Smason-Marcus, Harriet Markell, Heather Flaherty, Kara Mitchell, Kendra Cook, Kristin Hanna, Maialisa Vanyo, Michael Lilliquist, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Satpal Sidhu, Scott Korthuis, Stephen Gockley, Teresa Bosteter

Presenters: Daniel Hammill – IPRTF Behavioral Health Subcommittee Co-Chair, Mike Parker – IPRTF Behavioral Health Subcommittee Co-Chair, Wendy Jones – Chief Corrections Deputy Sherriff’s Office, Ryan Anderson – Assistant City Attorney Sr, City of Bellingham

Absent SAC Members: Anthony Hillaire, Bill Elfo, Chad Butenschoen, Darlene Peterson, Daron Smith, Deborah Hawley, David Goldman, Eli Wainman, Jack Hovenier, Jeff Monks, Jon Mutchler, Katrice Rodriguez/Rick George, Mike Hilley, Patrick Brodie Allen, Raylene King, Seth Fleetwood, Tyler Schroeder

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Welcome – Dan Hammill – Bellingham City Council Member & Mike Parker

Presentation on Behavioral Health Services in County Jail and Work Center– Wendy Harris (Chief of

Corrections, Whatcom County)

Overview of the Issues

• Approximately 45% of the offender population carries a diagnosis of a series mental illness. Due to resolving cases the number has increased to 58%, this means offenders have been transferred to Western State Hospital and/or formally diagnosed.

• Approximately 65-80% of the offenders have some type of substance use issues

• Complicating factors related to the issues above

o Cognitive disabilities–examples: autism spectrum, offenders born with fetal alcohol syndrome and under the influence of a substance.

o Underlying health

o Undiagnosed/untreated medical problems

o Refusal to cooperate with treatment

o Cultural stigma or beliefs around mental illness and/or substance use 

o Denial

• Criminogenic: Thinking and behavior differentiate people who commit crimes from those who do not, independent of mental illness.

o Incarcerated individuals with mental illness are frequently both mentally ill and criminogenic, and both need to be addressed.

o As more research has come out, they are finding if you identify someone with criminogenic factors as well as a mental illness and medication is given to stabilize the individual, it does not address the underlying criminogenic issues nor it will not reduce their return to incarceration due to only solving one issue not the other.

o Risk factors for criminogenic behavior include:  Antisocial behavior

 Antisocial personality  Antisocial thinking

 Antisocial associates  Dysfunctional family  Substance abuse

 Employment and education

 Leisure and recreation

• Current corrections behavioral health programs within Whatcom County Jail include:

o 2 Fulltime Mental Health Professionals (MHP’s)

o 1 Full Time Re-Entry Specialists

o 1 Part Time Psychiatric ARNP-complete evaluations and medication treatment 

o Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Program (MOUD)

 Since January of 2022, 83 offenders have started the MOUD Program

 Also, since January of 2022, 453 offenders have started the program who

had not been reached out to by a community agency but started while they

were incarcerated.

o Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS)–hosts group meetings as

well as one on one for individuals who report being a victim. Whatcom County Jail is a third-party reporter. This means if an offender feels like they have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed by inmates, staff, or prior to coming to jail, they can report to them to DVSAS.

o Whatcom County Jail also works closely with a designated crisis responder for involuntary detention for mental health issues

• Current agencies that work closely with the Whatcom County Jail include:

o Voluntary community substance use programs such as Alcohol Anonymous and

Narcotic Anonymous (AA, NA)

o Faith-based programs

o Work with wide variety of State and Local agencies including

 Department of Social Health Services and Department of Children and Family Services (DSHS/DCFS)

 Western State Hospital (WSH)

 Lake Whatcom – PACT Program

 Compass Health

 Lifeline Connections

 Bridget Collins

 Opportunity Council

 Lummi Nation

 Northwest Youth Services  GRACE/LEAD

• Main goal of this conversation is to change the perspective of the community on Whatcom County Jail and Work Center to be a point of engagement not just a place for incarceration.

• Programs like Ground- Level Response and Coordinated Engagement Program (GRACE) and

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program (LEAD) are great because they are able to pull people out of the criminal justice cycle. However, studies are showing the number of enrollments is very low due to booking restrictions and offenders not being able to sign up.

Questions and Answers

• What are the percentages overlap of between cognitive issues and substance abuse? Would also like to see a diagram that shows the overlap?

• Wendy will work on collecting data to send out to all the SAC members. The issue that she faces is she can only pull research from the last 5-8 years. Whatcom County Jail doesn’t have the ability to collect cognitive and substance use data due to not having the resources. New research shows 60% of individuals who suffer from a serious mental illness also have criminogenic risk factors.

• Would like more clarity on the magnitude of need categories and to understand those percentages of the research Wendy referenced.

• Wendy will try to collect resources and research to share with the SAC, including references to national studies.

• Wondering if Whatcom County Jail does any screenings for criminogenic factors?

• Yes, there are screening tools such as standard psych examines that identify individuals

who are symptomatic to antisocial personality behavior. Research is showing 80 percent of offenders who are in prison would classify as having criminogenic behavior.

• In order to evaluate the effectiveness of programs, how many staff members would there need to be to adequately staff the programs in order for them to be the most effective? Also, regarding a previous meeting Wendy mentioning no available rooms for resources to use so where do they meet?

• Staffing resources would need to double. The main issue is there is no space for them to adequately perform their jobs in the jail due to no conference room or no one room available. Staff resources will come in at various odd hours to be able to use the room that is available, whether that is after hours or on the weekends.

• Health Department Director clarified the following:

• Criminogenic behavior does not equal mental illness and mental illness does not equal

criminogenic behavior.

• Individuals who suffer from mental illness are more likely to be a victim of a crime than a perpetrator of a crime.

• Wondering what jail services are reasonable to serve a 20-day jail stay? The offenders with antisocial criminogenic behavior are deeply rooted and cannot be addressed within a 20-day jail stay. The Whatcom County Jail deals with a large portion of drug involved offenders and needs qualified staff to adequately provide treatment for those individuals.

• MOUD Program does help a lot. Current issue is a large percentage of offenders who come into jail show opioid drug use along with methamphetamine. MOUD is a great source for offenders who have a substance abuse disorder.

• Wondering how we could increase resources such as a re-entry specialist? Noticing in the data regarding the charges for each individual. A lot of the charges include DUI and DV charges and wondering what are the resources and support in the community that would help reduce the incarceration for those charges?

• Charges are often paired. Data set is only picking up all the charges and doesn’t correlate them, which is a problem and makes the data very confusing but still working on solutions.

Presentation on misdemeanor crimes and their impacts on the jail – Ryan Anderson (Assistant City Attorney Sr, City of Bellingham)

• Ryan Anderson has been in this position for 16 years

• He noticed a lot of change within the community jail, and the way we address crime in our area

• Discussed mostly dealing with misdemeanors and quality of life crimes. For example, those

crimes include shoplifting, theft, trespass, urinating defecating and disorderly conduct.

• Estimating around 2500-2600 criminal cases a year in the City of Bellingham and this does not

include misdemeanors infractions.

• Most serious cases included with misdemeanors are DUI and DV cases.

o These include: stalking cases, no contact orders and DUI’s.

• Most cases in the municipal court are solved with a summons and are cited and released in the


• There are three bookings categories

o Mandatory Bookings: Include DUI’s and domestic violence cases

o Warrants: In the pasts these are placed on someone who doesn’t appear for their out of

court custody hearings, doesn’t serve their jail time or does not attend their probation

review and they would receive a warrant

o Very rare due to booking restrictions include: harassment charges, assault, trespassor

refusal to leave a business.

• Electric Home Monitoring Systems (EHM) and GPS Systems are provided by Friendship Diversion


o EHM and SPS are home monitoring systems bracelet is worn on ankle with a GPS

included in the device and you can bring up a map to see where the individual has been. They are allowed to go to work and medical appointments. The individual receives day for day service credit for using the device.

o City of Bellingham uses SCRAM devices that monitor alcohol and drug use while wearing the device

• The current issue the City of Bellingham is facing due to problems with the jail, is noncompliance.

o For example, this morning Anderson had 30 individuals on out of custody agreement and only 9 out of 30 people showed up. They know there will be no consequences for their behavior.

Questions and Answers

• Is City of Bellingham dealing with percentages of categories similar to what Whatcom County Jail is facing?

• There is a lower percentage of mental illness present due to a bigger pool of individuals. Bellingham is dealing with a higher percentage of not showing up for court dates.

• Do the City of Bellingham prosecutors handle trials for felonies? Are there any programs in the community that you could think of to help reduce the number of crimes?

• The City of Bellingham only deals with misdemeanors within the city. Every felony and any misdemeanors that are outside of the cities would go to Whatcom County Prosecutor. Programs that would be beneficial include, improving engagement, services for mental health and alcohol, increase in law enforcement, and a change of attitude of offenders to reduce the cycle.

• Anderson also pointed out that it’s not just the jail aspect but also the lack of law enforcement due to understaffing.

• Is Mental Health Court available and if so, what are the results?

• Mental Health Court is still ongoing but membership numbers are low. It is hard to find

people because a person has to be a good fit for the program. Many opt to complete their sentence, which isn’t very long, rather than participating in Mental Health Court. Success in a mental health court can’t be measured by lack of recidivism, and success should be redefined.

• The question of what are the root causes. Many findings indicate that investing in children before they are at the age of 5 is a big determinant. As a community, we should think about making those investments. Prior to booking restrictions, Whatcom County’s recidivism rates are 60 percent. Some are immune to punishment and time they will have to serve doesn’t factor into their decision-making. We cannot hold someone indefinitely for quality of life crimes.

• Discussion regarding potential future presentation from the Public Defender’s Office on the criminal legal system, including the type of people they are seeing and their perspective on what programs would be helpful in the work they are doing.

Wrap Up – Email any questions for any of the presenters at SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us


SAC attendance required

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, July 14, 2022 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/68438/Meeting-Summary—-SAC-Mtg-4—07-14-22 ]

SAC Participants: Jack Hovenier, Stephen Gockley, Barry Buchanan, Cliff Langley, Erika Lautenbach, RB Tewksbury, Peter Frazier, Arlene Feld, Teresa Bosteter, Kristin Hanna, Darlene Peterson, Doug Chadwick, Daron Smith, David Goldman, Kendra Cook, Scott Korthuis, Daniel Hammill, Perry Mowery (& BHGAT), Brian Heinrich, Starck Follis, Bill Elfo, Michael Lilliquist, Harriet Markell, Brel Froebe, Maialisa Vanyo, Tyler Schroeder, Rebecca Mertzig, Satpal Sidhu, Eve Smason- Marcus, Heather Flaherty, Mary Lou Steward

BHGAT Members: Tommy McAuliffe, Gail de Hoog, Barbara Johnson-Vina, Mike Parker, Jackie Mitchell Others: Caleb Erickson; Makenzie Flemming & Amalia Martino, The Vida Agency

Support: Holly O’Neil, facilitator; Mardi Solomon, notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment report writer

Absent SAC Members: Chad, Butenschoen, Atul Deshmane, Brooke Elonde, Seth Fleetwood, Kara Mitchell, Rick George, Katrice Rodriguez, Deborah Hawley, Anthony Hillaire, Jon Mutchler, Eli Wainman

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to Order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair

SAC Process Overview & Agenda Review – Holly O’Neil, Crossroads Consulting, Facilitator

• The purpose of this session is to review the materials we have gathered so far, identify needs/gaps, and start talking

about recommendations.

• Upcoming meetings [Note: Dates corrected from what shows on the slide]:

o Sept. 15, 10:00-12:00 to discuss Facilities.

o Oct. 13, 10:00-12:00 to discuss the preliminary draft Needs Assessment o Nov. 17, 10:00-12:00 to review the Final Needs Assessment

• We will likely need extra committee meetings, and additional meetings with the IPRTF.

Review of why we are here, and what we are aiming to accomplish – Jack Hovenier, IPRTF Co-Chair

Public Engagement Plan –

• The Vida Agency (TVA) has been contracted to share what the SAC has been working on with the community at

large, and get meaningful feedback before we finish the Needs Assessment.

• Makenzie Flemming is the Research Project Mgr. from TVA. Amalia Martino is Founder and President of TVA.

• TVA starts projects with a discovery process that informs communications and engagement strategies.

Feedback on Draft Values and Goal Statements – Preliminary results of survey

• Request all SAC members fill out the survey about draft values and goals statements by tomorrow. This will help

form the basis of our vision statement and help TVA convey these values and goals to the community.

• Review of preliminary survey results based on 17 responses.

o There is a high degree of alignment on the draft values statements

o There is slightly less alignment on the draft goals statements. There was some misunderstanding of the

question as some people thought the statements referred to the present rather than what we are aiming for in the future. This has now been clarified.

• SAC members’ reflections on the values and goals:

o There is a profound lack of services for youth in our state. Want to prevent people from needing these

services. It is cheaper and more effective to invest in children rather than fix broken adults.


o There is discussion statewide about where youthful offenders will be housed. Need to house ages 18-23 or 25 separately from adults. Don’t want to have 12 & 18 year-olds mixing in housing. Need to plan for these youth who may need special services.

o What is the purpose of a jail? The public safety concerns are real. For many, the jail is a short-term, expensive intervention that doesn’t work. Prevention is critical, and we still have a population that needs intervention and to be incarcerated. Is there a mindset from the very first interaction of punishment or rehabilitation? Is this experience going to help put the person on a different trajectory in their life or condemn them to a life in and out of jail, poverty, etc.?

o Skeptical of what we can expect a jail to do. Fail to see rehabilitation happening. For most practical purposes, with the exception of GED, alcohol counseling, there isn’t a whole lot of rehabilitation happening in jail. Don’t know that the jail deters people from future misconduct. The jail primarily holds people who aren’t safe to be in society. It serves a warehousing function.

• We need a common understanding of who is in the jail now, how long they are there.

o Wendy Jones said the average stay in the jail is 20 days. Most people pass through the jail in 1-3 weeks.

Need to acknowledge that the jail is a mid-point for them. They have a history before being in jail and they will be dealing with the consequences long after they leave the jail. The goal is to have fewer people who end up passing through the jail. The middle point is small in duration. The tails are large in duration. Let’s make sure the mid-point is effective, safe, a point of engagement and accountability, but in terms of duration, it’s a small element.

o There are people in the jail for 13 hours after arrest for a DUI vs. people who are sitting in jail for 3 years awaiting trial for 1st degree murder. The average length of stay is not very meaningful because people are booked and released in the jail for all different things for different lengths of time. The people who need to be segregated from society are in the jail for a lot longer than 20 days. Once their cases are resolved, for the most part they go to prison.

o Caleb Erickson: There is average daily population and average length of stay. A very large segment of the population in jail is in for years awaiting trial for very serious offenses. The other end of the spectrum is people in for a very short time for DUI or driving infractions. There is very little in between. That is why the average is ~20 days.

o We have certain people who need to be in jail. The law and judges dictate who is in jail and for how long. If we’re going to hold people in jail against their will to maintain public safety, we need a place that is safe and constitutional, and can be operated in a manner that doesn’t violate their rights.

• When you think about the vision, balance what you think is realistic and the qualities you want in a jail, ideally? Approach visioning by thinking about what is real and then turn up the “want dial.” What do you want to be true?

• The values and goals statements will be revised and a vision statement will be drafted based on survey input. These will be presented to the SAC again for review, feedback, and approval.

Review Needs/Gaps & Recommendations Identified So Far

Community Behavioral Health Services – SAC Discussion

• Make sure there are adequate services for youth in all three of the priorities.

• There is so much enhancement the whole system needs. Should have separate document for larger system

improvements. (Note: A SIM Addendum of system improvements and policy recommendations is under


• Peer models are really effective in community behavioral health. There could be a lot more of that.

• This is so general. What does it mean in terms of specific actions? Social and clinical services are divided into pieces.

• We don’t have enough services and some systems are broken at a high level. Make investments upstream.

• Concerned we will have silos and a lack of good “customer experience.” We forget about individuals and their

specific needs. Make sure there is no wrong door for people to enter (e.g., people with co-occurring mental health and substance use issues may not go to the right door). Also concerned about how much all this will cost. The jail will cost a fortune and the operation of it will likely go way beyond the budget we are used to if we are going to do all this.

• Wendy said that 42%+ people have severe mental illness. The severity isn’t addressed in the three priorities. Insurance limits the number of sessions. That is not adequate for treating severe mental illness. As a policy matter, we need to develop a system with more depth to the help it offers.

• What about creating a separate website that shows what is available in the County already? Voters don’t know what already exists and what people need to have. A lot of people are misinformed and don’t understand. Kendra will donate time to help with this website development.

• Mental Health Court is one of the most effective tools in decreasing law enforcement and social service contacts. The criteria to use this service currently are very strict. This is an existing resource that should be expanded.


Housing Services – SAC Discussion

• We just need more of it. County and City just passed HB 1590 and that money is already gone. We do have Drug

Court housing that opened last year but we need more. Based on current experience, scattered site supported housing is probably a better option than facility-based. Interested in what scattered site housing Bellingham Housing Authority has to offer.

• Permanent Supported Housing (PSH) Case Managers aren’t always skilled in dealing with co-occurring mental health and substance use treatment issues. Have struggled with ensuring immediate, onsite access to behavioral health professionals.

• Clarify is the recommendation for #4 – How will it be implemented? Is it a policy recommendation or will funding be requested?

• How do housing services for at risk populations fit within the SAC’s role? There is funding in place. It’s probably inadequate, but the Behavioral Health Fund currently funds operations (1406 and 1590 go towards supported housing). There isn’t enough PSH in our community today, but there are a lot of people and funds working towards that goal. Concern about scope creep for SAC. There are other community forums discussing this topic.

• Important we re-evaluate supported housing. We need a safe place for people to fail. If people fail out of PSH, they go back to the streets. Beyond clinical & chemical dependency support, peer support is important, community building is not something I see in current PSH.

• Would navigators/case managers who can follow clients who need extra support help with sobriety and stability?

• We have been doing the same things for 30 years and it’s not working. People are expected to follow protocol and

strict guidelines without the support to do it. Need more support and space for growth. That takes time and can’t be rushed. We are working with a system that is centered in white supremacy culture and we are mimicking that culture by moving too fast, power-hoarding, and not including people who are impacted by the systems.

• Like the way the needs & recommendations are targeted and focused. Resource investments need to be targeted and focused to help people break the cycle. Within PSH there were clinicians in buildings. Some of the BHGAT recommendations strengthen existing services. They honor what we have and acknowledge that more, better, deeper services can make them more effective.

• Reentry programs and therapeutic court programs that we need housing for fit with our conversation. Need to review what level of clinical case management is needed in other PSH programs.

• There are system-based contradictions in PSH with clashing needs of landlords and behavioral health needs of clients. Are there policy changes that could ameliorate this contradiction of needs? It’s not just a need for more case managers. May need structural, policy, legal changes in how housing programs are structured.

Jail BH Services – SAC Discussion

• These are critical services to have in the jail. The Public Defenders Office will be requesting additional behavioral

health specialists in the 2023 budget. Believe these services can reduce incarceration & recidivism.

• Some of the reasons the jail is so full are that competency hearings aren’t happening in a timely manner, and trials

were put on pause during COVID so people are in jail awaiting trial. Is the competency hearing piece embedded in


• If we could provide effective and timely mental health services locally, some number of people could be restored to

competency locally instead of going to Western State Hospital. We can’t get the state to do this in a timely manner,

but if we could circumvent that by doing more of it locally, that would help.

• It is not competency evaluations that are the bottleneck, it is the restoration services. There is an evaluator who resides

in Bellingham. Once found incompetent, nothing can happen on the case until they are restored to competency.

• Because of COVID, people aren’t being restored in a timely manner, and are housed in the jail which contributes to

mental health problems.

• Barry met with the Exec. Dir. of WA State Assoc. of Counties yesterday and brought this up as an important issue to

bring to the state legislature. He has sent an email to many stakeholders to convene a meeting to develop a statewide

strategy for engaging the legislature to address this issue.

• Whether to have competency restoration in the jail was the question. The BHGAT decided it would be better to have

competency restoration services in the community rather than in jail. Should add this to the community BH services


• Identifying & reducing barriers to services that are existing outside the jail for people in the jail (e.g., if a student is

part of the WISE program and has a parent in jail, how to include the parent in the treatment planning).

• Some policy or training for counselors about not saying something that would put their client’s case at risk.

• Currently there are workforce issues with behavioral health specialists at the jail. Now there are two MHP positions,

and one reentry case manager. That’s not a lot for the number of people with behavioral health issues.


• Even adding two more case managers doesn’t seem like it’s a setup for success. Suggest more than 2 additional intensive CMs. (Note: There are additional mental health and substance use professionals in the other priorities on the chart).

Reentry Services – SAC Discussion

• A key to someone not getting into trouble again is to help them get into housing, get a better job, get educated to get a

better job. Education and employment should be called out.

• PACT is wonderful but limited in numbers of people they will enroll and people they will accept based on diagnosis.

PACT deals with a certain population and it’s not a broad enough population to really address the issues.

• With PACT, the BHGAT was thinking of an adapted best practice to serve the populations not served by a typical best

practice PACT program.

• BHGAT was thinking of reentry as starting in jail and then setting people up with services like PACT, LEAD,

GRACE so they would get intensive case management and help accessing services they want.

• Need to add a new value about how we’re responding to customer/human focus.

• Ensuring we have formalized supported employment in the community will be critical.

• There are employment services tailored for people with mental health issues such as Foundational Community


• Re equity: The IPRTF enthusiastically adopted the Racial Equity Toolkit and the IPRTF is working on this. Find a

way to take the time to slow it down and look through an equity lens.

• Do community outreach to folks who have been incarcerated to find out what reentry supports have been effective and

what would help with reentry.

• There are so many new and expanded programs. The jail is deplorable. Worried that if we add too many services, it

will get too expensive and we won’t get the jail we need. All of this could be scope creep. Worried that we’re looking for the perfect solution to all the problems and meanwhile we’re not solving the obvious problem we have. We need a new jail facility with capacity to handle the needs of our community.

• Share concern that the number that may come in will be shocking to the public, but we are talking about much more than a jail. We’re talking about modernizing public health & safety services in Whatcom County. Think about how to reframe this for Nov. 2023 and what the messaging will be to help the public understand this isn’t what we talked about in the past, this is about a lot more.

Needs/Gaps Other than Behavioral Health

• Focus on mind-body health that is more lifestyle-oriented (not pharmaceutical, more holistic). That is congruent with a more restorative justice philosophy.

• Process and policy issues will need to be included.

• Need to look at all the material we are creating through the Racial Equity Toolkit

Facilities Wish List

• Over 16+ years, Lt. Caleb Erickson has talked with various people at the jail (inmates, medical staff, mental health staff, etc.) about what would result in better outcomes for people, looking at best practices in other communities. Started to created a list of concepts about what we need in a facility. It is not exhaustive and it is always growing.

• A big thorn in the Public Defenders office is the limited facilities to meet with clients and have professionals evaluate clients. Telephone access has been greatly diminished over the years as more inmates have been locked down. It is one of the things that slows down the criminal legal system when it’s difficult for lawyers to have access to clients. Only have access to two passthrough visiting rooms at the jail and one is no longer available. Visiting booths are inadequate. Need a jail design that includes adequate places for medical, legal, & psychological professionals to meet with inmates.

• Facilities for crime scene investigation, archive, and evidence storage.

• Possible that could be co-located with sheriff’s operations. The list is narrowly focused on what would be inside the

jail facility.

• Have diverse staff with a lot of wisdom about what should be in the jail. Need to survey the staff.

• Have a crisis of staff fleeing the jail.

• Having space for medical staff. The medical staff needs to be looked at in general – should have 24/7 medical

professional at each facilities. Deputies are having to pass out meds. It takes a lot of time. Decrease stress on deputies and create opportunity for inmates to talk with someone about their issues. Look at an integrated approach with services available on the outside. It would behoove everyone to have 24/7 medical staff on the inside. – Can add this to needs/gaps “other than behavioral health.”

• Would like to see facilities that are not the jail and facilities in the jail for services. Is there something in-between (e.g., wings/components attached to the jail that are contiguous with out-patient programs that may be needed? A continuum for people who are leaving the jail? Synergies and co-locations that may be beneficial?


• Most of the list is functional but we need to think of the design element. Everyone in the jail has been disrespected throughout life. The rehabilitative aspect of a light, open, nice facility designed for functional purposes should be considered because of the human effect on everyone involved.

• Emphasize the importance of proximity to the courthouse. Now there is heavy reliance on Video Court because there aren’t deputies to bring inmates across the hallway. Video Court is inadequate and dehumanizing. They need to be face-to-face with a judge.




SAC attendance is optional

Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the Justice Project


Friday, September 9, 2022; 1:00 – 2:00 pm


[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/69367/Meeting-Summary—SAC-Group-Disc—Sept-9-2022_1 ]

SAC Members present: Arlene Feld, Barry Buchanan, Brel Froebe, Brooke Eolande, Cliff Langley, Dan Hammill, Darlene Peterson, David Goldman, Erika Lautenbach, Eve Smason-Marcus, Harriet Markell, Kristin Hanna, Maialisa Vanyo/Starck Follis, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury

Absent SAC Members: Anthony Hillaire, Atul Deshmane, Chad Butenschoen, Daron Smith, Deborah Hawley, Eli Wainman, Eric Richey, Heather Flaherty, Jack Hovenier, Jon Mutchler, Kara Mitchell Allen, Kendra Cook, Mary Lou Steward, Rebecca Mertzig/David Crass, Roman Swanaset-Simmonds, Satpal Sidhu/Tyler Schroeder, Seth Fleetwood, Scott Korthius, Bill Elfo/Doug Chadwick, Stephen Gockley, Teresa Bosteter

To view a video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, SAC Chair, Whatcom County Councilmember Councilmember Buchanan welcomed SAC members and introduced presenters for the meeting.

Presentation from the Public Defender’s Office, Starck Follis, Director, Whatcom County Public Defender; Maialisa Vanyo, Chief Deputy, Whatcom County Public Defender; Jane Boman, Senior Deputy Public Defender, Whatcom County Public Defender

Starck Follis welcomed the Members and provided the following information about the Public Defender’s office

– Located across the street from the Bellingham Public Library

– Staff includes 50 employees including legal assistants (8), investigators (6), behavioral health

specialists (2)

– Office handles 1500+ felonies a year, 2,000 misdemeanors a year (mostly in county courts)

– Most of their clients come through the County Jail

– Cases are rising compared to last year

Stark Follis continued discussing the current challenges and ideas for improvements, including the following:

– The current problem is the same: whether the numbers can be controlled.

– Office has proposed adding two more behavioral health specialists, whose purpose is to reduce incarceration rates or find alternatives to incarceration for clients, bringing the office total to four. – Considering a contract for services with Partners for Justice https://www.partnersforjustice.org/

– Opportunity to sentence to community service work instead of jail time

– Jail facility improvements are 4-5 years away at least. In the meantime, there is an immediate

need to address capacity in the jail. If inmates are sent to other facilities because of capacity, it is a burden on lawyers at the public defender’s office who have to travel some distance to meet with clients.

Starck Follis discussed the following feedback he received from behavioral health specialists regarding what is important if a new jail is built:

1. Better and faster access to medical attention including anti-psychotic medication. Currently there is a wait period after booking to see medical staff.

2. Programs including substance abuse treatment (space and staffing for services like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous), GED classes, moral reconation therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, parenting classes, anger management and domestic violence treatment

3. Jail does people significant damage. Limited contact with people outside the jail. Many inmates are in 23/1, in their cell for 23 hours and out of cell only 1 hour. Many people are worse when than when they come into the jail. This is not in any way to criticize the work of jail staff, who do a great job and work well with the Public Defender’s Office.

Maialisa Vanyo discussed elements of concern for a jail facility, including the following:

– Current access to medical services in the jail is very poor, and the timelines for seeing a medical

provider are far too long.

– I hear from clients that due to a lack of jail staffing, there is balloon dosing and people are suffering

because of it.

– 23 hours alone in a cell with only one hour outside of the cell has long lasting harm for all clients,

not just ones with mental health issues

– Public Defender’s Office can be more successful with more behavioral health help and client

advocates, which would allow earlier and more in-depth representation.

Maialisa Vanyo continued to discuss mental health court, which is primarily used for felony reduction cases reduced to misdemeanors.

– There are limits to the program about who can be accepted based on their charges and if they are dual diagnosis (SUD and MH Disorders).

– State requires a ‘serious mental illness’ status to qualify for the program, allowing for placing people in community custody with the creation of a treatment plan with a community mental health provider. However, no one is in place to provide the community health provider service. Additionally, clients lose Medicaid when they are incarcerated, and treatment providers won’t meet with clients without insurance.

Maialisa Vanyo discussed changes over the last couple of years, including the following:

– Body cameras now have to be used in all jurisdictions. There were 430 hours of footage last year and over 1,000 hours of footage this year so far. Review of the footage requires a lot of staff time

to process.

– Blake decision makes it so we can’t process people possessing controlled substances.

– Overall, case numbers are still going up. The nature/seriousness is changing and it’s a different

kind of work. It impacts usage of drug court.

Jane Boman discussed the drug court system, including the following:

– Drug court is pretrial court. Give up the right to a jury trial in order to participate in drug court. If they succeed the charges are released forever. If they are terminated from the program a judge rules on their case and sentences them.

– Drug court never responds to substance use disorder with jail time. (Whereas probation programs always use jail time) They use sanctions in coordination with treatment. They use work crew, increased reporting to case management and the court, termination and prosecution of the case (if there’s a DUI or new felony charge), graduation and dismissal of the criminal case.

– 22 people are in the drug court program now. Before COVID-19, the numbers were in the 50s.

– Staff are working on updating policies and procedures to bring them in line with best practices.

– Whatcom county has lower recidivism of felonies for people that graduate Whatcom County’s

Drug Court program.

– 85% white, non-Hispanic population in the program as opposed to 65% in the state. – More people enrolled in Medicaid in our program than the state average.

Stark Follis made the following final comments:

– There are good things about the jail as it currently exists.

o It’s location across the street makes it easy to visit clients as opposed to walking across the street. It is also important that clients appear in court in person rather than on zoom – so their humanity is seen.

o Can pick up the phone and talk to clients over the phone. This is the case for general population (not 23/1 population).

o IT has set up video conferencing in a private booth for inmates. Telephone and video conferencing are, however, not the same as building trust through face to face contact.

o Note: there is only one pass through conference room in the jail where we can meet clients. This is a challenge, and sometimes there is a 5- to 30-minute wait for staff to move inmates.

Questions and Answers

Presenters discussed and answered the following questions from SAC Members:

– Some of the problems come from public defenders. Some attorneys don’t spend enough time giving information to their clients, or they give them poor advice. Is it best to put navigators into

the Public Defender’s Office or would it be better to house them in an independent office?

o 99% of complaints received are about communication, not seeing their lawyer in a few

weeks. If there are issues, we work to address them as soon as possible.

o Navigators should be under the Public defender’s office because we are in the best

position to advocate and navigate for our clients.

– Could we get an estimate about what programs would reduce your loads and the jail loads, where

would you spend $500,000?

o Would fund client advocates, behavioral health staff. Because of increased filings and

attrition, we are finding we could use more legal staff.

o Staff that can navigate access to programs faster. There shouldn’t be months long waits

for treatment, but could there be a specialized facility for them while they wait for an


o Rather than building office up to serve more defendants, let’s try reducing the number of


– Concerns about jail location, let’s say it gets placed at Irongate. Have you seen other communities

that have a satellite office that works?

o Skagit County built a remote location in south Mount Vernon. Public Defender’s Office

has three locations that are a 5- minute drive from the jail.

o King County has offices at the Kent detention center. Most of the 250 lawyers are in

downtown Seattle, but most defendants are in the Kent location. Most jails are built in a

central location. Times have changed and the availability of property may impact location.

– Drug court has certain kinds of cases not allowed by the state, and some cases are allowed by the

state but not allowed in our drug court. Can you give us an example?

o There is a statute that specifies who is allowed in a drug court program, and there are exclusions that the prosecutor’s office has.

o The program can accommodate around 60 and we are well below capacity

– What is an ideal number for case managers?

o Haven’t had the participation to bring on more case managers. Program could grow to accommodate more. Court is held 1 hour of Thursday afternoons. Used to go for 3+ hours. We could find time in the court calendar if program became more robust.

– Are in-patient beds an issue?

o A low intensity, men-only, treatment center is new in Whatcom County and has capacity

that is not being used. It’s the only in-patient program in Whatcom.

o A person can get into a program within a week to a month for transfer to in-patient.

Getting assessments for in-patient referrals can cause delay due to staff limitations. o Sober living situations after release from in-patient programs is an issue.

– Issue of restoration comes up, and the delay for mental healthcare can impact jail populations. There have been discussions about a mental health hospital in IPRTF meetings. Can restoration services be provided locally?

o Not sure if that is possible under the statute. The delay could be alleviated if Western State or Eastern State could be expanded. It could be problematic for a local organization to open a hospital and do competency restorations.

o MaialisaandStarkmetwithpoliticalcandidatestoexpresstheconcernaboutavailability for competency restoration without delays. Delays are in violation of timelines in state code. Felony cases are being dismissed because Western State did not meet timelines.

o ThosewaitingforavailabilityatWesternStateHospitalcouldbeprovidedanalternative location than the jail during their wait. Competency is a fluid concept, they can ask for an evaluation at any time, even during their wait for Western State Hospital.


Councilmember Buchanan announced the conclusion of the meeting and asked that further questions on this topic be emailed to sac@co.whatcom.wa.us. Additionally, Councilmember Buchanan reminded SAC Members about the SAC meeting next week on Thursday at 10am.


Meeting adjourned at 2:05 pm.


SAC attendance required

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, September 15, 2022 10:00 – 12:00 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/69455/SAC-Mtg-5–SUMMARY ]

SAC Participants: Jack Hovenier, Stephen Gockley, Barry Buchanan, Cliff Langley, Erika Lautenbach, RB Tewksbury, Peter Frazier, Arlene Feld, Teresa Bosteter, Kristin Hanna, Darlene Peterson, David Goldman, Kendra Cook, Scott Korthuis, Daniel Hammill, Perry Mowery, Michael Lilliquist, Harriet Markell, Brel Froebe, Maialisa Vanyo, Tyler Schroeder, Satpal Sidhu, Heather Flaherty, Mary Lou Steward, David Crass, Deborah Hawley, Eve Smason-Marcus, Kara Mitchell Allen, Brooke Eolande

Others: Caleb Erickson, Wendy Jones

Support: Holly O’Neil, Facilitator; Mardi Solomon, Notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment

Report Writer

Absent SAC Members: Chad Butenschoen, Doug Chadwick, Seth Fleetwood/Brian Heinrich, Atul Deshmane, Roman Swanaset-Simmonds, Anthony Hillaire, Jon Mutchler, Eli Wainman, Rebecca Mertzig, Daron Smith, Starck Follis, Eric Richey

To view video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to Order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair

Agenda Review & Updates – Holly O’Neil, Crossroads Consulting, Facilitator

• The purpose of this session is to discuss facilities.

• Upcoming meetings

o Sept. 29, 11:30-1:00 optional work session to continue facilities discussion. [Note: End time of meeting has been updated from what is shown on the slide]:

o Oct. 13, 10:00-12:00 to discuss the preliminary draft Needs Assessment o Nov. 17, 10:00-12:00 to review the Final Needs Assessment

Remembering What We Are Doing – Holly

• Review of scope of the SAC’s work

• Updates:

o The Vida Agency is beginning to implement a public engagement process.

o SAC members provided survey input on values, goals, and vision statements. There was a lot of agreement

among the group participants and a lot of feedback. SAC members are invited to join Holly & Mardi in

revising these statements for review at the Oct. SAC meeting. o Survey of jail staff is underway.

Facilities Overview – Lt. Caleb Erickson, Whatcom County Corrections

• Caleb described the design of the downtown jail and Interim Work Center and ways these spaces have been changed

over time.

• He listed pros and cons of each facility.

• The jail design requires staff to bring inmates to services which is staff-intensive and less safe than bringing services

to the housing units.

• Every piece of infrastructure in the jail needs to be replaced. The Work Center is newer and better designed, but some

of the systems are beginning to fail.

Jail & Work Center Data

• Total yearly average daily population (ADP) is now about where it was in 2017, after a significant dip in 2020-21 because of COVID (2022 ADP is 295).

• Although booking restrictions are still in place, there has been a 35-40% increase in ADP over last year.


• Some explanations for spikes & dips in ADP are: Changes at the state Dept. of Corrections level, increases in certain crimes, Work Center opened, backlogged warrants, booking restrictions, Blake decision, COVID, influx of people to the area who have criminal histories.

• The number of days people are in the jail on average is less than two weeks. The largest number is people who are in for one day. The people who are in jail longest are mostly pretrial felons in on serious charges.

• The most common offenses in 2022 were DUI and assault/domestic violence.

• With COVID and the difficulty getting cases through court, less than 2% of people in custody on a given day are fully

sentenced. The average length of stay has increased. It is a challenge to find room for people when current inmates

aren’t moving on through the system. This also is driving down the utilization of sentencing alternatives.

• There are diversion strategies in place to keep the jail population down. Some are not sustainable long-term (e.g., cite

& release, warrant re-issue and summons), and if there were bed space many of these people would be in custody. Other diversion strategies include pretrial monitoring and alternative sentencing options (e.g., electronic home detention, work crews).

Recommendations – Best Practices for Corrections

• Prioritize versatility. Make sure the space is designed to be used for a wide variety of applications.

• Flexible jail spaces to respond to population increases & decreases.

• Avoid dormitory style housing. Dormitories are less expensive to construct; however, inmates do not have their own

space to maintain and retreat to as needed, and it is impossible to mitigate the spread of contagious conditions such as

COVID in a dormitory.

• Bring services to inmates rather than inmates to services. It is risky and staff intensive to move inmates from housing


• Honor the needs of municipalities. We owe it to them to provide space for their jail needs and haven’t been able to

honor that recently.

• Make sure technologies in the facility are as robust as possible and can be used to leverage the capacity of the work

force. Having the ability to easily modify and replace technologies as they change and advance is important.

Inmate Survey Results – Mardi Solomon, Crossroads Consulting

• 100 surveys were completed by inmates.

• The inmates who were not given the opportunity to participate were in the 23&1 housing which is tighter security.

• 62% of respondents were at the Work Center and 38% were at the jail.

• Some differences between the two populations:

o Sex offenders (12%) were housed at the Work Center, and the 10% in the Medical/Mental Health unit were located in the jail.

o People in the jail were more likely to have been homeless and living on the streets, to have mental health and/or substance use disorders, to have a longer criminal history, and to have been incarcerated longer than those in the Work Center.

o Otherwise the populations are similar. Most people who are in the Work Center have spent time in the jail.

• 62% responded that the County needs to build a new jail.

• 69% said that a new jail should be built bigger than the current one.

• Supported housing for people leaving jail is the service people rated as a top priority. Mental health and substance use

services in jail and the community were the next highest rated. A brand-new jail building was not rated as very important, however, a new jail building with services was considered extremely important.

SAC Facilities Survey Results

• 77% of SAC members feel the downtown jail definitely needs to be replaced, and an additional 10% feel it probably needs replacement.

• There is no consensus about whether the Work Center needs to be replaced: 37% were unsure, and equal percentages said probably and probably not (23%).

Facilities Discussion – The discussion is divided into three sections: Services, Capacity, and Location. Services Discussion

Most important priorities from SAC Facilities Survey Question Regarding Services: SAC members felt the most essential services to have in the jail were medical services, mental health services, and options for visits with families and others. Treatment for substance use, outdoor spaces for recreation, exercise activities, reentry case management, education classes, and job training were rated as very important.

Services Questions: What would you like the group to be thinking about as to why a particular service would be more (or less) important for co-location within a jail facility? What more do you need to know before we make decisions?


Q&A and Discussion:

• The Work Center is not a decent structure. The building has problems with air circulation causing people breathing problems and allergic reactions. It should be rebuilt and co-located with all the other jail services.

• Want answers to what & where questions. What – Do the services reduce recidivism? Where – Don’t want a motive to keep people in jail to get services they need. Want to release people from jail knowing there are equivalent services available to them so we can divert or release them based on other factors.

  Q: What does it look like to bring services to the inmate rather than inmate to services?

Q: Some percentage of inmates are awaiting competency restoration at Western State Hospital. Is it possible. to do competency restoration locally?

A: Maialisa Vanyo – See comments on the Justice Project webpage. The statute for competency restoration for felony offences has to be done at a facility that is run by the Dept. of Corrections. There is a statute that allows for out-of- custody competency restoration, but it has a lot of requirements, our county doesn’t meet yet. What we may be able to do locally, is if people receive adequate mental health services locally, they may get to a point of competency and could get a 2nd evaluation and save a trip to Western State Hospital. This won’t work for everyone. Some require involuntary medication to restore competency and would need to go to Western.

• It is shocking that 98% of people in jail are pretrial. Given that, rather than asking what services should be in a new facility, we should ask what we can offer pretrial that isn’t in a facility. Love the idea of having a mental health facility. There are so many services that could happen in a pretrial setting that don’t have to be in jail setting and we would see lower numbers in the jail.

Q: What has been explored about renovating the jail? Have those numbers been crunched?

A: Caleb – Currently, in both facilities, if you need to see an attorney, you come out of the housing unit and go to a

 different location in the building to visit with an attorney. It’s risky for higher security level inmates. It would be

 better to have an attorney access a part of the unit, so the inmate can go to a door inside their unit to meet with an

 attorney via video or in an onsite visiting space. Same with recreation, medical, dental, etc. There are some things, that

 require special equipment, and those may require moving the inmate. Reducing the amount inmates have to be moved,

 reduces risk and staff time involved.

  A: Satpal Sidhu – A lot of people are in for less than 3 days, but they do need to be there. Services can’t be offered to

 people who are there for a short time. In discussion with counties in the region, our communities need at least 500

 beds for mental health outside the jail. It’s not our preference to have all the services be located in the jail, but that

 investment is not in our hands, it is in the hands of the state and other entities.

 Repairing this jail is not possible. This is not an opinion. It’s been studied many different ways over the last 20 years.

 We’re already spending good money after bad money. We have spent more than $10M over the past 3-4 years on new

 elevators and doors, etc. It is a black hole. We could put $40M in and won’t have anything worthwhile to show for it.

 A: Jack Hovenier – Had the opportunity to make a video in the jail the other day and see all areas in the jail. I believe

 putting more money into that building is a black hole. While we may never get consensus on what to replace it with, I

 do not believe the facility is reasonable and the sooner we quit pouring money into it the better. Hope we can get

 consensus on that and then have conversations about the best path forward to serve community needs.

Q: If we built a new facility with spaces for services, what assurance would our community have that service spaces wouldn’t be transitioned into new beds?

Q: Saw the inside of LA County jail when it was brand new (early 2000’s). There was a significant change when the jail brought services to the inmates in those pods. The guards could see everyone and security was fantastic through cameras and sight lines. Do we have statistics on cost savings of bringing services to inmates?

A: See the 2016 study by design2LAST that presents cost estimates for capital improvements to the Jail and Work Center.

A: Satpal – Have projections from 2017 about savings in operations of the jail. Expect a minimum of 10% savings per year ($25M). Over 30 years that is $750M.

   Capacity Discussion

 Most important priorities from SAC Facilities Survey question regarding capacity: Facility should have enough

  space for services. Spaces should be flexible so they can be repurposed as jail population declines. Build it big enough and

 not too small.


 Capacity Questions: What would you like the group to be thinking about when considering capacity? What questions do we need to ask to determine capacity of a facility?

Q&A and Discussion:

  • Compelling information from the Vera Report: The most significant factor when determining jail size is the policies that inform your local system.

• Two overlapping capacity problems: Short-term inmates who are good candidates for home monitoring. How many of those people are there, and what facilities do we need to hold them temporarily until they are released? Second capacity issue is longer term inmates. Want enough capacity and the right kind of connections to move the first group through the system, and capacity to house the other group long-term. Might house people in different facilities, or at least not house them together.

• It is not just the Whatcom County government at play with this. The municipalities are being asked to pay into this. What will the interlocal agreement be between the cities? How many beds are we buying and what services are we paying for?

Q: Want to understand the interplay between incarceration prevention & reduction with regard to LEAD & GRACE diversion programs. We are ahead of the other 38 counties in WA state in operating diversion programs, and they are helping people stay out of jail and get basic human services they need. If we expand those programs, how would that impact the jail population? Recognizing that there are some people with criminogenic factors and addictions who won’t be helped by these services, could we predict a certain percentage decrease in jail population?

A: Perry Mowery – Some statistics from a presentation to Bellingham City Council, 2021:

o LEAD participants are 58% less likely to be rearrested after joining the program.

o 179 individuals received GRACE services. 52% were connected to behavioral health services. People

referred by law enforcement into GRACE had 95% reduction in their involvement with law enforcement.

• It is important to include funding for expansion of diversion programs because they are working. These are teams of support for people who usually have co-occurring disorders. It keeps them out of jail. To maintain funding for diversion programs and all of these services is essential. It is a web of connections. If you leave any out, there will be gaps people will fall through. We are here to fill the gaps in our social service system.

• Would be interested to see if expansion of Mental Health Court and Drug Court would have any effect.

• The Inmate Survey says 63% of people are in jail longer because they can’t pay bail. How could jail numbers be lowered by not having a bail system?

Location Discussion

Most important priorities from SAC Facilities Survey Question Regarding Location: The factor related to location that SAC members rated as very important was proximity to criminal legal system resources. It was also very important that a facility be easily accessible by family/friends, which is related to proximity to public transit. Proximity to crisis services was another factor related to location that was considered important. Those items of average importance were to be far from schools or high-density residential areas.

• I don’t want to be boxed in by our facility. As our county’s population grows, we may need more jail space, even with

 efforts to reduce jail population. Want to have expansion opportunities for the long-term.

 A: Erika Lautenbach – Both LEAD & GRACE were transferred to the Health Dept. this year. There are high thresholds

 for participation in these programs given the model and capacity. It’s part of a continuum that is really important, but

 not the only factor that will reduce the jail population. Many people have had a lot of interactions with the jail before

 becoming clients in these programs.

 We have cobbled together a variety of funding sources for these programs. The current funding sources are not as

 stable as we would like them to be. The programs are not at risk of going away, but there is little opportunity for the

 programs to expand given the tenuous nature of the funding. Need to ensure stable funding for the programs.

 • Our community is in a big debate. We need numbers. If we can get some idea of the number of people who need to be

 physically separated from the rest, then we could agree on a minimum capacity. Can we have the best treatment

 center? How much is the community willing to spend on it? Are we willing to invest more in certain services so we

 need fewer beds in the jail?

• Capital costs of this project and operation of the jail is Whatcom County’s responsibility. Gaps in social services and

programmatic costs are a shared responsibility with the state. We should be cognizant of what we can achieve with our tax base.


Location Questions: Barry – Three locations have been identified: Downtown (Civic Center), Irongate, Ferndale. What do you need to know about these locations before we make decisions?

Q&A and Discussion:

• Dan Hammill: Important to correctly distinguish between “Downtown Business District” and the “Civic Center.” We need to correctly label this.

• Almost nowhere is far from schools. Only place you don’t have schools nearby is Irongate.

• Where is there space in the Civic Center area?

• Should rate the three locations based on what has been determined to be most important (from survey).

• Civic Center location raises concerns. We have to have the best jail design when we do this and downtown is likely

more expensive and less flexible because there’s less footprint. Is that true?

• Concern from Public Defenders’ office about getting access to clients, having time to get out to Irongate, and enabling clients to make in-person appearances in court. Also heard that jail staff don’t even want to move inmates to a visitation booth, much less to court across town. Would become more reliant on video appearances which is not the direction we should be going.

• There is a huge parking lot that is owned by the County. Could have underground parking and build on top of that. Is the library happy where it is? That is a large piece of property. Have properties adjacent to the jail been explored?

• Re Civic Center location: What impact will the construction have? That will interrupt operations. What are added

costs, and is it practical?

Q: Want to address social justice issues. How do Lummi & Nooksack feel about location? Do they want a facility closer to them? Are there other voices that haven’t been heard from?

A: Barry – Both Lummi & Nooksack have been invited to join this group but haven’t participated so far. The Vida Agency is implementing a public engagement plan and will be making a special effort to reach out to those communities.

   • If we don’t use Ferndale, can we sell it and how much do we get for it, and will the proceeds be used for jail costs?

• If the Downtown/Civic Center location is chosen, what is the cost differential vs. other sites?

• Worry about expansion over time with Civic Center site due to limits on available land.

 • Regarding preference for Irongate location: There is bus availability. It could be increased. The location is about 2-3

 miles from Civic Center, which is not a long distance at all. A lot of services are in the Civic Center. It is a semi-

 industrial area so it’s not immediately up against housing developments. Won’t get blowback from community saying

 you’re too close to something.

 • Look at previous studies about location. Historical documents exist. Costs will have to be updated, but they did

 address a lot of these questions, and they do have a lot of info.

• Majority of new housing is in North Bellingham. Irongate area won’t be vacant in 20 years. The South parking lot in

Civic Center is an appropriate place to consider.

• We’ve talked about cost savings of bringing services to inmates in the jail. The costs of transporting inmates from

Irongate or Ferndale to the courts, proximity to which was the most highly rated factor regarding location, tilts toward

looking hardest at the Civic Center location.

• Caleb – Clarification: Bringing services to inmates is not simply for cost savings. It reduces safety by having to move

inmates to services. Some people are volatile and assault staff on the way. It would mitigate safety risks by co-locating

services to avoid transports.

• Are we considering proximity to other cities like Lynden, Everson, Sumas? They have courts as well. Have to

transport to their courts. Prefer Ferndale location for numerous reasons.

 • Could build on parking lot and have sky bridge to old jail. Could have access to old jail for other programs. Don’t know if it would cost more to maintain the building for other services or tear it down. Could expand the available space this way.


• Email any additional questions/comments to SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us

• Email SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us to work on Values, Goals, & Vision statements

• Review the SAC info webpage: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/justice



SAC attendance is optional

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Facilities Work Session

Thursday, September 29, 2022 11:30 – 1:00 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/70228/SAC-Group-Disc—Facilities-Work-Session-09-29-2022 ]

SAC Participants: Barry Buchanan (Chair), Jack Hovenier, Cliff Langley, Kendra Cook, Michael Lilliquist, Kristin Hanna, Starck Follis, Dan Hammill, Teresa Bosteter, Doug Chadwick, Bill Elfo, Brooke Eolande, RB Tewksbury, Brel Froebe, Deborah Hawley, Erika Lautenbach, Perry Mowery, Scott Korthuis, Eve Smason-Marcus, Atul Deshmane, Maialisa Vanyo, Harriet Markell, Peter Frazier, Arlene Feld, Tyler Schroeder

Support: Holly O’Neil, Facilitator; Mardi Solomon, Notes; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment Report Writer Others: Caleb Erickson, Wendy Jones

To view video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to Order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair

Review Agenda & Objectives for Today – Holly O’Neil, Crossroads Consulting, Facilitator

Objectives: Evaluate three potential sites for a new jail facility and develop a recommendation, if possible, for presenting to the SAC at the October meeting. We will use the criteria that have been established so far.

Overview of Three Prospective Jail Sites – Tyler Schroeder, Whatcom County. Deputy Executive and SAC Member The criteria we have used for today include those related to capacity and location of a site. Some of these come from the

Facilities Wish List Lt. Caleb Erickson presented at a previous meeting.

Criteria Capacity:

• A large enough site to build a horizontal facility that would be big enough to handle future growth of inmate population and incorporate services

• Adjacent space that could be used/purchased for future expansion, if needed Location:

• Proximity to criminal legal system resources (e.g., courthouse, police/sheriff, public defenders) • Proximity to Work Center

• Proximity to crisis services (e.g., Crisis Stabilization Center, hospital, fire station, EMS)

• Proximity to community behavioral health services and public transit

• Distance from schools and high-density residential areas

• Compatibility with neighboring uses and aesthetic impact on community character

There are three sites in County ownership that make a good starting point for this conversation:

• Civic Center overall acreage is 5.3 acres: current jail & courthouse is 2.77 acres, the South parking lot is 1.3 acres, “The

Pit” is 1.3 acres.

• Irongate overall acreage is 10.6 acres. Existing buildings are the Work Center and Crisis Stabilization Center. The County

recently acquired 3.5 acres of usable property to the West. The Work Center was constructed so it could be repurposed.

• Ferndale – Labounty Rd. overall acreage is 39 acres. 16-18 acres is developable land along Labounty.

Discussion: (Q=Question; A=Answer; C=Comment)

Q: Has there been any consideration of doing a condemnation or imminent domain action to acquire any different sites? A: No. There is always conversation about acquiring other sites but not about doing a condemnation.


C: Some of the criteria seem like we’re trying to site a prison rather than a jail (e.g., a jail shouldn’t be near school or residential neighborhood). Most of the people are in jail for a short time and are involved in legal proceedings. This isn’t a warehouse for known dangerous criminals, but the siting criteria act as if it is. The current jail is near community facilities, residences, etc. and that hasn’t been a problem.

C: Not all of the criteria are the same weight.

C: Technical question about whether horizontal is the best design. What is critical is to have eyes-on and good viewpoints, but the block design could be stacked or adjacent to each other.

C: (Erickson) Key criteria are how much it costs to build and how much to operate. Building up costs more to operate longer term as opposed to building out. Could have lower and upper tiers, but need to have ADA accessibility in case of emergency. If everything is on one level, we don’t have to rely on an elevator, which may be unreliable or fail. If multiple units are located around a deputy station, the staff can observe/monitor multiple areas on one floor. If we build up, we have to duplicate staff and stations on multiple floors. Also takes longer for staff to respond to an emergency. Snohomish has a multi-tiered jail and it requires a lot of staff.

C: (Elfo) Counter the idea there aren’t dangerous people being released from jail because they haven’t been convicted. In 2004 the County Council added to the Comp Plan that a jail couldn’t be sited within one mile of a school. Believe the Sheriff’s office needs to be located near the jail to make maximum use of personnel. Don’t lose sight of fact that small jurisdictions only have one officer on duty at a time. If they have to travel to downtown, it leaves that jurisdiction unprotected while they are gone. Central location close to freeway is preferable.

C: Concern that this committee is ill-equipped to address the translation of requirements into facilities specifications. That is something engineers of such facilities should be doing, including looking at siting specs. Largest concern is that we haven’t translated community’s needs into requirements. The documents we have are translating the needs of processing people through this “marble maze” more than they are addressing the needs of families and individuals involved in the system. Identifying community needs would give the input we need to translate requirements into facilities specs. Starck identified the importance of legal advocates having access, but there are lots of advocates in the community for people who are incarcerated in the jail, and we want to maximize access for those advocates. Having people in 23 & 1 and sending people to Western State Hospital gets in the way of that. People need to be in their community. Minimize the separation of inmates and advocates.

Q: There have been ideas about a local mental health (MH) facility so people with severe MH challenges don’t have to be in the jail. Does this discussion include a MH facility as part of the vision and today’s discussion, or is it just a jail?

Q: A criteria mentioned access to behavioral health services. What are those services and could those services be provided within a jail in the future?

C: The current jail is within a mile of 5 schools. That hasn’t caused any problems.

C: We got 90% consensus that the current jail at the Civic Center is not in condition to be used for the needs of incarceration. We agree something needs to be done to replace that. What that replacement looks like and where it is open for question. The question of whether there should be something that is better than what we have now has been asked, answered, and we have an obligation consider those things. We also need to consider diversion strategies and what we can do to minimize incarceration. The decision about whether the jail needs to be replaced has been made.

C: (Jones) MH care is provided in the jail, but is limited because of space issues, and because a significant proportion of offenders deny their mental illness. They don’t want to work with MH folks and they refuse meds which makes it difficult to get them stabilized. Also, the restrictions on what we can do to provide involuntary treatment in the jail are onerous and set by US Supreme Court. The responsibility for this falls under DSHS and we don’t have much say about it.

C: There is a dynamic aspect to site location. If it’s built next to the current courthouse, then the current jail site is open for other needs. If we pick any location besides Ferndale, the Ferndale site can be sold and that money can be used. Those are site-related considerations that need to be factored in.

Capacity – Tyler

• Have used past and current work to think about size (square footage) of a facility. Components could be stacked or horizontal. It could be one building or have separate MH facilities on same site or nearby.

• If the facilities wish list items were spread horizontally, it would be 3.6 acres.

• Answer to earlier question: If there were a decision to go vertical, look at the total sq. ft. for housing pods (9,350 sq. ft.).

Housing pods are 2 stories. Each pod would house ~40 people. If you have 1.3 acres (56,000 sq. ft.), it would be ~6 story facility.


• DLR Report in 2013 was done by architects & engineers. The design had two large squares totaling 3.75 acres. Current estimates are based on these assumptions. Overall Site Plan shows a site with a multitude of different services (Crisis Stabilization Cntr., MH facility), and if it were located in one place, the total site would need to be ~11-14 acres.

C: (Erickson) Question of whether we have a MH facility that does the work of restoration in our community should be seen as a supporting structures already existing in the criminal justice process. We’re not suggesting we put people in a MH facility as an alternative to incarceration. People involved in the criminal justice process who require restoration don’t have a place to go because there are few options at the state level for that type of work.

Q: Sounded like Wendy Jones indicated that it was legally not possible. Is that true?

A: (Erickson) There are some barriers with existing laws that would prevent us from doing that wholesale here, but

Councilmember Buchanan is involved in conversations to address this. That is a part of a bigger discussion.

Review Matrices

• The info in the existing matrices is just to stimulate the conversation.

C: The chart is structured to present pros & cons. Would be more helpful to rank order the criteria and then apply the criteria

to each site. Want to add criteria: access to legal advocacy, access to family, maintainability, flexibility.

C: First, one criterion assumes space for horizontal layout. Says land costs are high in Civic Center but we already own the land. If we can sell Ferndale, there are negative land costs. Re concern about entitlement process with the City of Bellingham: That doesn’t seem like an issue.

Q: Re Irongate cost considerations: Do we know we could acquire additional property or is it a maybe?

A: It’s a maybe. There are only ~10 acres available at Irongate. It would be a tight fit for a horizontal structure at Irongate.

Would need to acquire more property to make the site more appropriate. There has been dialogue but there is no certainty to that dialogue.

Q: Bellingham is only part of the community we are talking about. We have communities and agencies farther away. Bellingham is getting more populated and difficult to get around. Are we considering what other communities and agencies have to go through to get people to downtown Bellingham or Irongate?

Q: Re being able to sell one property: Is there a ballpark dollar amount about what a facility would cost and ability to compare costs on the three sites?

A: In the last go-around in 2013, construction of this type of facility was ~$110M. From 2013 to now we know construction costs have increased. We’re looking at something like $150M as a ballpark. It will require professionals to be hired to determine what the costs of all 3 sites would be.

• Read through the rest of the matrices and then continued discussion. Take Aways

• Given our discussion, what site(s) seem like the best options?

• Can we rule out any of the site options?

• What additional information is needed to make a recommendation to the SAC?

Q: It says a cost consideration with Civic Center is offsetting costs to replace parking. What does that mean? A: The South Parking Lot would have to be replaced if that site were chosen.

C: We should rule out Ferndale as it looks less preferable on a lot of fronts. Re replacement parking: That is not a small thing. It is an enormous cost! Prefer Irongate. There is WTA transportation there but it’s once a day so you have to negotiate for more frequent service. Re priorities: The most important thing to people is behavioral health services. Have to keep that as priority in all our planning. It has been a lacking piece of the jail. It is necessary to treat people in the jail because a stay in jail is traumatic. If the building is better and more humane, then it will be less traumatic, but being locked up is traumatic for anybody. Want attention focused on space for counseling rooms, group counseling rooms, 12-step meetings, etc. It also is important to extend MH services when people are released to reduce re-incarceration. Need navigators at the front end when people are facing incarceration, perhaps in jail, and after to support people, most of whom have serious mental illnesses. Navigation is now being funded.

Straw poll to get a sense of people’s preferences at this time:

• Civic Center =8

• Irongate = 8

• Ferndale = 2

• No preference =2


C: Reason I voted for Ferndale is because I see the Civic location as being boxed in. This is a 30–100-year decision for us and Ferndale has the most space. I would choose Irongate 2nd. Expect legal services will move to the jail over time instead of staying where they are.

C: I voted for Civic because it is so important to keep the focus on the fact that it’s a jail and people’s fate is being decided by a judge in court. The reason we have a jail is people are locked up until the court decides. These are mostly pretrial people and they have a right to a speedy trial. This isn’t about warehousing people. It’s not a prison. If they have serious mental illness they are removed and put in civil setting for competency. People need to be by their lawyers and the courts that are deciding their fate and to be seen in person.

C: We need room. What about all the people who are providing services, trying to give inmates hope that they can recover? Where can we park? Irongate makes perfect sense.

C: None of them are ideal. Irongate is a good compromise. Downtown is too boxed in. Not enough space for everything that needs to be contained there (e.g., parking, room for expansion, services). Irongate would give us that. The issue of transportation isn’t too bad, It’s not that long a drive for attorneys, families. It’s going to be the best option and has my strong support.

Q for Erickson or Elfo: Concern about transportation of inmates to courthouse. What is highest risk for the staff doing transport of inmates to and from the court?

C: Re horizontal buildings: The hospital is multi-level so building up should be an option. Re bus: It’s not accessible if the bus line is on Hannegan and they have to walk up the hill. Appreciated what Michael wrote in his public comment about establishing care within the jail but also with community partners for after release so there isn’t loss of care. There are many studies that show when people are connected with community-based efforts they don’t go back to jail. That’s why downtown is best so they are connected to services. Our goal should be not incarcerating people but providing care and creating more services so less of the community is incarcerated.

Q: Don’t square footage requirements rule out the Civic Center area? If a horizontal facility is best practice, shouldn’t we decide on that and then the site is dictated by how much sq. ft. is necessary.

C: Tyler’s presentation is spot-on, however, it feels like we’re being channeled towards Ferndale because that is the site that would have the space to build the facility that would be most desirable. Even Irongate would be tight to build the kind of facility we want. Has anyone considered an imminent domain or condemnation action? The state has the power to decide what the best site is and can force landowners to be compensated for their property and put the facility where it is best. The closer to the courthouse, the better for those who work in the system. Beyond that, it needs to be enough land to build the facility we want. Before we limit ourselves to these three sites, consider what other options are.

C: 3 points: 1) A larger site would allow co-location of staff and offenders at the Work Center with a new jail. 2) WTA bus stop didn’t exist where it is at Irongate until the Work Center was built. 3) A lot of the behavioral health services we are talking about are not currently located in the Civic Center.

Wrap up

• We will send out the matrix. You can send it back with your comments.

• We have a variety of opinions and some important considerations were raised that expanded our understanding.



SAC attendance required 

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, October 13, 2022 10:00 – 12:00 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/70456/Summary-SAC-Mtg-6—10-13-22 ]

SAC Participants: Stephen Gockley, Barry Buchanan, Cliff Langley, Erika Lautenbach, RB Tewksbury, Peter Frazier, Arlene Feld, Teresa Bosteter, Kristin Hanna, David Goldman, Kendra Cook, Scott Korthuis, Daniel Hammill, Perry Mowery, Michael Lilliquist, Brel Froebe, Maialisa Vanyo, Tyler Schroeder, Satpal Sidhu, Heather Flaherty, Mary Lou Steward, Deborah Hawley, Eve Smason-Marcus, Kara Mitchell Allen, Brooke Eolande, Bill Elfo, Don Almer (on behalf of Rebecca Mertzig), Eli Wainman, Daron Smith, Starck Follis

Support: Holly O’Neil, Facilitator; Mardi Solomon, Notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment Report Writer

Absent SAC Members: Chad Butenschoen, Doug Chadwick, Brian Heinrich, Atul Deshmane, Seth Fleetwood, Anthony Hillaire, Jon Mutchler, Roman Swanaset-Simmonds, Eric Richey, Darlene Peterson

To view video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to Order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair Agenda Review & Timeline – Holly O’Neil, Crossroads Consulting, Facilitator

Remembering What We Are Doing – Holly

• We have had excellent presentations from people bringing the relevant information we need. We have worked closely

with the Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) to think about priorities for facilities and services. Jennifer Moon is compiling material into a report presenting our recommendations to County Council that will be a foundation for a Nov. 2023 ballot initiative.

Purpose of Today’s Meeting:

• Determine levels of agreement on priorities identified so far. These are Vision, Values & Goals, as well as Needs &

Recommendations that have been identified, and Needs & Recommendations relative to facilities.

Looking Ahead:

• The materials we are creating will be shared for public feedback through surveys of priority audiences (e.g., people

with a history of incarceration and their families) and the general public. The Vida Agency (TVA) is conducting the

surveys. SAC members will not provide feedback on the survey or the process but will see the results.

• TVA also is raising overall awareness of the SAC’s process and work being done.

• Crossroads Consulting will facilitate a Town Hall on Nov. 15, 6:00-7:30, which is open to the public. All SAC

members are encouraged to attend and to invite others.

• The next SAC meeting is Nov. 17. We will continue refining priorities and review sections of the Needs Assessment


• Another SAC meeting will be held in Dec. or Jan. to look at the public input gathered by TVA and incorporate it into

our final product. We now plan to present to Council at their first meeting in February.

Decision-making Process

• The SAC quorum is officially 12, as set by the resolution. The number of SAC members has gone up since that was set. The quorum number should be increased to ensure a more robust process.

• For approval, we need 50% +1 of SAC members in attendance.

• Surveys and SAC discussions have helped us think critically and find common ground. Survey results will be included

in the appendix of the final Needs Assessment Report to illustrate levels of agreement. We will have a formal process 1

to approve of the final needs and recommendations. The process is: Motion, 2nd, discussion, amendments, vote with a

simple majority to pass.

• The goal is to use a consensus-seeking process with final approval by a vote.

Process for Today

• Review the poll results and discuss the items that have less than 80% agreement. We will try to identify where people need more information or revisions are needed to increase agreement.

Introduction of Presenters – Barry Buchanan

Vision, Values, & Goals Poll Results – Deborah Hawley

• A small workgroup developed the Vision, Values & Goals statements – Deborah Hawley, Michael Lilliquist, and

Kristin Hanna.

• Response rate is ~65% (26 respondents).

• Review the results of the poll. The level of agreement on the Vision, Values & Goals statements was over 85% for all


Needs & Recommendations Poll Results – Stephen Gockley

• Response rate is ~63% (25 respondents).

• Review the results of the poll, noting discrepancies in levels of agreement between the need and the recommendation

to address that need.

• The items that have less than 80% agreement were highlighted for discussion.

Discussion of the items with less than 80% agreement (Q=Question, A=Answer, C=Comment)

C: Disagreement between need and response may be because the recommendation goes too far or not far enough. C: Why is the response rate on these polls so low? As a group we should have a higher response rate.

C: We want everyone to take the polls.

Re Housing Services for At-Risk Populations

C: We have a general housing problem. That relates to all the housing recommendations. Why would this group of people get priority for services? This is an equity question. Why this group over others in need?

C: All our needs/gaps & recommendations are great but what about cost? It would be good to do all these things, but we don’t have infinite money.

C: Services should be put where they are most needed. “On demand” may cause issues. We still have a need for a jail and a lot of these other services will depend on what internal/external funding we have.

C: A possible reason people may not support dedicated housing for therapeutic court members is that not everyone agrees it is government’s role to provide housing, but WA state is offering more funding for housing issues, especially related to social services. It is possible more federal funding will be available under the current administration.

Q: Could someone share data on how stable housing has an impact on recidivism?

A: Dedicated housing for therapeutic court members has already been developed as an accomplishment of the IPRTF.

There is clean and sober housing on Meridian St. for Drug Court members. This is a one-year+ program. If people go back to the drug-infested social networks they have come from it won’t work. People need a stable place to go for successful diversion. Permanent supportive housing programs is a critical factor to success in diversion programs such as LEAD & GRACE. We need more. We know this from the people working with folks on the ground. There is no need for more statistics.

C: Dedicated housing is a big need for people in therapeutic courts. It’s hard to be successful in these programs if you are worried about housing. Concern is that, if the housing is tied to a person’s involvement with therapeutic court and a person is unable to successfully go through it, then housing would be taken away. That housing would be unstable. This needs to be addressed.

Post-incarceration Community Supports

Re “…need assistance to reenter the workforce”:

C: Feel this is a service that can be offered in the jail. Why do we need an outside service to do this?

C: We had an outside organization provide job training classes and opportunities to connect with companies that hire

people post-incarceration, but that program doesn’t exist anymore. The job issue is essential. People need a way to make a living. It is similar to housing in terms of its significance in what we are trying to do. The training that is


needed to operate well in the work force is very important after people have been out of the work force and in a

different culture.

C: Given the significant SUD & MH challenges in the jail population, vocational support services seem like a secondary

need, especially given a limited pot of money.

Re recommendation to establish dedicated housing for reentry population:

C: Concern that there are a lot of groups that need housing and don’t want to encourage people to go to jail to get housing. It’s better to get them housing before that.

C: We shouldn’t create a conflict between prevention and reentry support. We can’t prioritize one over the other because we have said we want to do both equally.

C: Rather than promising housing, we should promise opportunities for employment. Going to jail shouldn’t be a qualification for getting something for free. Our society should lower the stigma against people who have been incarcerated and create opportunities for them.

C: There are disproportionate rates of incarceration for disabled people, and they will never be employed at a level where they can pay for their own housing because the amount we pay disabled people is very low.

C: Lacking stable housing is one of the biggest barriers to employment. People can’t maintain a job without a safe place to sleep, shower, an address, etc. Housing keeps people out of jail. We need more dedicated housing and that should be more of a priority than employment opportunities.

C: This recommendation is similar to the other one about permanent supportive housing. This housing has intensive case management support which is like moving in with your parents on steroids. This is a challenge, but people need it because they have a history of not being successful living independently. It is not realistic that people would go to jail to get housing. Not sure this item is at the top of the priority list given cost considerations, but it’s not a concern that people will be gaming the system to get a roof over their head.

Reentry Services

Re PACT Services: People’s comments were they didn’t know what PACT was. Are there other concerns?

C: Concern that PACT is a specific, limited fix that may exclude other ideas. Community-based ideas deserve to be discussed as well.

Q: Is there anyone on the SAC who has a finger on the pulse of national and international data about what works?

A: PACT is an evidence-based program for people with very severe mental illness who can’t function without assistance

(medication, case management). We need to include this clarification in the need/recommendation description.

Q: Court & reentry navigator programs have been discussed. Would this be good to include?

C: The issue of navigators is important because the populations we’re talking about need support in all aspects of this

process. We should also have navigators for court experiences. They have difficulty dealing with attorneys, making decisions when they don’t understand the system, etc.

Jail-Based Behavioral Health Services

Re “Create positions for 2 Intensive Case Mgrs. (CMs): The problem may be specifying the number 2.

C: Two CMs is not enough. CMs are burnt out because of caseloads. Consistency of CMs who can build relationships and work with folks over a long period of time would contribute to success of people engaging in the criminal legal system.

C: The Health Dept. administers a team with Lifeline Connections. There are currently two MHPs and one reentry specialist. There also is an MHP who works with youth. The recommendation is for one MHP and two reentry specialists. There are a lot of people releasing from jail. We hear that isn’t enough.

Q: Are there numbers of what a caseload would look like for those CMs if the number of CMs increased by 3 or 4? Initial Detention/Initial Court Hearings – What is missing or needs to change with the needs & recommendations?

C: Comments indicated lack of understanding of Public Safety Assessment. This matter is within the scope of judicial officers within Superior Court to move them beyond the cash bail system. They aren’t really one of our target audiences. Concern with this being on our recommendations because Superior Court judicial officers haven’t asked us for our views. Stephen is happy to provide additional information about this.

Community Behavioral Health Services


Re recommendation regarding Designated Crisis Responders assigned to Law Enforcement: Comments indicated confusion about this recommendation. Perry will help to clarify.

Re recommendation to increase availability of MH &/or SUD treatment: There is disagreement with the second part of the recommendation. People do not want to prioritize admission of individuals releasing from incarceration.

Priorities Regarding Jail Location Poll Results – Tyler Schroeder

• Response rate ~50% (21 responses).

• Poll questions came from the dialogue at the Sept. 29 work session.

• Highest priority is cost to build on site – 81% rated this important or very important

Re proximity of jail location to community resources

• Public transportation is very important to us – 91% rated important or very important.

• Proximity to courthouse – 76% important/very important. It is important for people to appear in person in hearings. It

would be OK to have a courtroom in or near the jail.

• A “campus” approach with Crisis Stabilization Center, Work Center, Jail, Sheriff’s Office may not be as important.

Ranking of Preferred Jail Location

• The 21 respondents rated Irongate 1st choice, Civic Center 2nd choice, and Ferndale 3rd choice.

Discussion – We are working with limited data. What is most important to think about to advance the conversation?

C: The WTA operations center is 3 blocks from the Work Center. Operationally it would be very easy for WTA to add

service between downtown and an Irongate facility because they already make that run to their own facility.

C: Regarding the percentage responding to “enough land to build horizontal design”: It doesn’t coincide with the choice of Irongate. From Tyler’s 9/29 presentation, the square footage needed for all the facility needs would only fit in Ferndale.

The Ferndale site is 100% what is needed. It will be less expensive.

C: Irongate is a close 2nd to Ferndale, provided there is an opportunity to acquire additional land.

C: We may need an if/then decision tree.

C: Would like the most affordable jail with the most room to expand which leads to Ferndale.

C: In conversation, people working inside the criminal legal system indicated willingness to be away from courthouse as

long as satellite courts could be constructed at Irongate. In favor of Irongate but only if there is enough space to build a horizontal facility and get all the things we need there. There may be space there that could be purchased to make it all happen.

C: There are dynamic aspects to consider: If Irongate or Ferndale are selected, the Ferndale site is surplus. If any site other than Civic Center is chosen, then we need a presence near the courthouse. How big might that grow to be? If the jail were moved to Irongate, is it best to keep using the Work Center as it is now or change it to Admin. Offices and move the Work Center to downtown? If you need more space at Irongate, you can have it by moving the Work Center. Pieces will move around dynamically. Don’t decide based on current configurations.

C: Tyler: The County has gone through the different iterations. The last iteration had courthouse improvements to allow for better transport to the courthouse for hearings. That would be provided if a site other than Civic Center is selected. 81% indicated cost to build on the site was important for determining location. Could provide SAC with more information about cost estimates to build horizontal vs. vertical design. There is some info from 2008 & 2010 HDR reports indicating a substantial increase in costs to build a vertical facility. Could send this info to SAC.

C: Re Civic Center site: There are design factors we have no information on. There is a fair amount of land between South parking lot and “the Pit” and the footprint of the current jail. Could we replace parking with underground or rooftop parking? We don’t have enough info to make informed recommendations. A lot of the Ferndale land is not developable. There are wetland mitigation issues. We’re not going to move the courthouse. There is so much value to maintaining the cluster of services in Civic Center. Encourage us not to make a choice, but to wait until the design phase after this community input phase. Location isn’t something we are equipped to provide meaningful input on.

C: Re eminent domain mentioned by Starck before: The library folks have said they do not want to remain where they are. That is a whole block of land that could be developable.

C: Re Civic Center: It could be a triage intake and place for housing people going to court. It could be a hub where they start, classification. Divert people from there before they go to court. Taking courthouse to the jail is less favorable, less public. The fewer people who go through the court system, the better. There are so many possibilities, we shouldn’t nail something down right away.


C: This SAC is a great data source, but I feel ignorant to answer a lot of these questions as an individual and stakeholder. Analysis and data collection is best done by experts who have their fingers on the pulse of externalities that go into making these decisions. Want us to focus on collecting data from lots of stakeholders and have experts do the analysis.

C: The focus on site selection is putting the cart before the horse. The horizontal facility is the way to go. What would a vertical facility be like downtown. Is that the impression we want to give the community? There is a lot of space in Whatcom County. We should get information to settle on what the facility will be and site selection comes later.

C: Doing this in next year’s election is risky. The referendums have failed twice in off years. Voter turnout in off years is half what it is in regular election cycles. We want to get it right this time and make sure it passes.

C: Irongate is the best option. Ferndale location failed twice in 2015 and 2017. It’s not a winning combo. Bringing courts to Irongate works. The Crisis Stabilization Center is at Irongate as well.

C: There is extensive project creep. Some of the recommendations are embedded in ballot measures that have already passed. We need to focus on what we are recommending to the Council – a facility and services. Housing shouldn’t be in this ballot measure. It needs to be more narrow.

C: Feel a strong sense of urgency. Our jail is awful! It is a horrible place and not safe or healthy. We have to do something. Don’t think our community really sees how serious the problem is. If they saw the true picture, they would have sense of urgency.

C: There is a desire to meet in Dec. to keep this moving forward.

Next Steps

• Complete two polls by Oct. 19: Please fill it out Facilities Location and Needs & Recommendations polls if you haven’t, or you can go back and redo your survey.

• Give comments on Needs Assessment Report Table of Contents

• Town Hall is Nov. 15, 6:00-7:30 pm. (hybrid meeting). Please attend and spread the word. • Next SAC meeting is Nov. 17, 10:00 am.-12:00 pm.

• Don’t want to do any formal votes before we hear back from TVA about the public input.

Adjourn 12:00 pm.





November 15, 2022 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/71169/Summary—Justice-Project-Town-Hall—Nov-15-2022 ]

The Whatcom Justice Project has many efforts underway to gather public input for the Public Health, Safety, and Justice Needs Assessment. In addition to a survey of the general public, focus groups, and individual interviews being conducted by The Vida Agency, the Justice Project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) hosted a Town Hall on November 15, 2022, 6:00-8:00 pm. This hybrid event was widely publicized and open to anyone who wanted to participate in-person in the Council Chambers (in the Courthouse in downtown Bellingham), or virtually. The focus of the Town Hall was to hear people’s impressions of the vision, values, goals, and priority needs the SAC has identified, and listen to the public’s opinions about incarceration and need for a new jail.

A recording of the full event and presentation slides are on the SAC webpage. Outreach Efforts

The Town Hall and the survey were publicized via Facebook, the County website, and the Whatcom Justice Project website in hopes of attracting a diverse group of participants from throughout Whatcom County. Also, emails were sent to approximately 100 contacts at organizations throughout the county with a request that they forward the invitation to their constituents. In addition, fliers were distributed to 53 county locations (e.g., libraries, post offices, senior centers) and posted on many bulletin boards around Bellingham.

Event Format

People who participated in-person were given a packet of information that included the agenda, a description of the Justice Project Needs Assessment, the draft vision, values, and goals statements, and draft needs.

The two-hour Town Hall was facilitated by Holly O’Neil of Crossroads Consulting. The session began with short presentations to orient participants to the topic, and the remainder of the time (80 minutes) was open for public comment.

Listening Session Summary

• Approximately 35 people attended the Town Hall in-person, and about 70 participated online. Seventeen SAC members were in attendance (in-person or online) to listen.

• The facilitator began the session with a land acknowledgment and review of the agenda.

• The stated purpose of the Town Hall was to ask the community for input on incarceration change in

Whatcom County, and gather feedback on the Vision, Values, Goals, Needs and Gaps that have been developed so far by the SAC.

A summary of key points from the presentations and public comments follows. To view the video recording, click the links in the section headings.



Satpal Sidhu, County Executive

• Our community needs a justice & safety facility to replace the current inhumane and inadequate, crumbling jail.

• Community members and county government have been working for 15 years to come to consensus on a plan to replace the jail.

• The cost has increased from $50M to an estimated $150M, to build a new jail, due to increased costs of materials, labor, etc.

• The key is to prioritize the needs and then decide on sequencing and funding. There is a delicate balance between the needs and wants, and the resources we have at this time.

Tyler Schroeder, Deputy Executive – Review of Recent History

     2011 Jail Planning Task Force is developed to address overcrowding and increased need for behavioral health and other services.

      2012 Task Force recommends building a new, expanded jail facility.

      2013 Whatcom County purchases land in Ferndale for $6.1 million for a new jail facility.

      2014 – 15 Voters reject proposition No. 2015-1 to fund a new, expanded jail with a 0.2% sales tax increase. Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) is established 2015

            2017 Voters reject proposition No. 2017-6 to fund a new, expanded jail with a 0.2% sales and use tax.

       2018  County conducts a Listening Tour and an online survey.

       2020  Participants ask the County to prioritize rehabilitation over punishment and address the root causes of incarceration. County forms a committee to develop a Justice Project Needs Assessment and engages diverse communities to provide feedback and help guide recommendations. SAC convenes Jan. 2022

Early 2023  Justice Project Needs Assessment available for public viewing.

   Stephen Gockley, Co-Chair, Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force (IPRTF)

• The IPRTF was created by Council Ordinance in 2015 after the first ballot initiative was defeated. There is consensus that a new jail needs to be built.

• Recommend everyone view the video jail tour to get a sense of current conditions.

• IPRTF members have provided considerable expertise, background information, and data to support

the SAC’s work, and many IPRTF members serve on the SAC. The IPRTF hopes to endorse the SAC’s


• There will be issues identified that are critical to reforming the criminal legal system, but are outside

the scope of the SAC, and this long-range work will likely fall to the IPRTF.

• The IPRTF is a diverse group of governmental representatives and community stakeholders (service

providers and people with lived experience).


• The functions of the IPRTF: To identify issues, prioritize issues, make recommendations to advise County Council and the County Exec., catalyze change, initiate reforms, share information and promote collaboration across multiple systems.

• The IPRTF is designated to serve as the County’s Law & Justice Council. The IPRTF’s focus is on incarceration prevention & reduction, but as the L&J Council, the charge is to advise the County on all criminal legal system issues including the jail.

• The structure of the IPRTF is a number of committees (Steering committee, Legal & Justice Systems, Data, and Behavioral Health) and work groups (e.g., pretrial issues).

• The IPRTF is a model effort for promoting positive change in the criminal legal system and has collaborated with many well-respected entities (e.g., Vera Institute, UW).

• The IPRTF adopted a commitment to reduce racial disparities in the criminal legal system.

• IPRTF Accomplishments: Helping to conceptualize, promote, and develop the Anne Deacon Center

for Hope (Crisis Stabilization Center); GRACE & LEAD diversion programs, Pretrial Services Unit,

promotion of the Co-responder program and Alternative Response Team, and Recovery House.

• Ongoing work: Using best practices, evidence-based approaches, relying on expert advice,

advocating for better data systems and data transparency, and continuing to advance racial equity. Currently focused on expanding capacity for behavioral health services, diversion programs, and support services for people re-entering the community after incarceration.

Barry Buchanan, Councilmember and SAC Chair – About the SAC

• After the 2018 listening sessions, the Council passed resolution 2019-036 that included principles for

how to approach planning a new facility.

• Formed the SAC to conduct a needs assessment. The first meeting was scheduled for March 2020,

but then COVID hit and the project was put on hold. Restarted the project in Jan. 2022 with a 38-

member committee.

• The SAC has met 6 times so far.

• The SAC structure is based on the same model as IPRTF with governmental & nonprofit

representatives, and community members, including people with lived experience in the criminal

legal system.

• Purpose of the SAC: Guide the development of the Justice Project Needs Assessment.

• Formed the Behavioral Health Gap Analysis Team (BHGAT) to do gap analysis. Needs and

recommendations came out of the BHGAT’s work.

• In Sept. the SAC started talking about facilities.

• In Oct. the SAC started working on the Needs Assessment Report.

• At the meeting this Thurs. the SAC will work on the draft Needs Assessment.

• The SAC will incorporate tonight’s input and that gathered by The Vida Agency.

• Plan to approve the final report at the Jan. 19 mtg. and then the IPRTF will discuss it.

• The report will be presented to Council Feb. 7.

Introduction to the Listening Session

• Review of process: Each person was given two minutes to speak. The facilitator alternated between calling on people in the Chambers and the online audience. People were encouraged to email any additional comments in writing to sac@co.whatcom.wa.us to be posted on the SAC webpage, and to complete the Justice Project survey.


• While participants could express whatever they wanted, they were encouraged to address two key questions:

1. What do you think is important for our community to help improve public safety, and prevent and avoid incarceration?

2. What do you think is important to consider for a new jail facility?

Comments from Listening Session Participants

Thirty-six people made public comments. Everyone who raised their hand to speak had a chance to do so before the session ended. Key points made by speakers are summarized below. The factual accuracy of people’s statements has not been confirmed for this analysis. Many people’s comments fell into more than one category so they are counted more than once in the tallies, but the full comments are only presented in one category below.


14 people spoke to the need for a new jail. Many acknowledged previous failed efforts to pass a tax for a jail and rising costs to build a new jail. Some wanted to build on the previous work, noting that the LaBounty property is already purchased and there are models for a jail design. They expressed concern about crime, and the opinion that, while services are important, a new jail is a top priority.


• We need a jail. Everybody agrees… We have the land zoned for a jail, and we have a plan from

the Snohomish Jail. We were going to build pods for jail out there. We need to bring that forth

to the public and make a decision. Safety is a prime responsibility.

• To improve public safety, we need to understand we’re not talking just about homelessness,

mental health (MH), substance use disorders (SUD), we’re talking about the criminal element that makes us feel unsafe. We need services, we know that’s an issue, but we need a new jail. We have a 97-page report from 2013 with info about the facility, and the Snohomish model to pull from. We need trained staff and good infrastructure. That needs to be our first focus.

9 people stated that they feel like Bellingham is less safe than it used to be because we don’t have enough law enforcement. They blame the COVID vaccine mandate for all city employees that was enforced by the mayor and resulted in some officers being let go. These speakers argued that the city needs more police to address increasing crime, and that they should rehire these experienced officers (with back pay). Many also stated that a new jail is needed but they believe this will take five years to complete, so while the jail is a high priority, they are focused on the near-term action to increase law enforcement by hiring back the officers who left.


• Our community isn’t safe. Through decisions of leaders by unconstitutional vaccination

mandates we lost officers. We need a fix now. #1 thing you can do is contact officers you fired. Make it right. They are who we need to get community on the right track. Have to pay them back pay. It will be wonderful if they will come back. We do need the jail. There are consequences to choices. We don’t need more parks. It doesn’t matter if we have that good stuff because the good people are moving out of the area. Tired of being accosted, and not feeling safe at night. We can’t wait 5 yrs. We need it now. Find the money, use the money, do it!


8 people spoke explicitly about the importance of accountability and the threat of punishment to decrease crime. They stated that changes in laws have made challenging for law enforcement to do their job, public safety has been compromised, and criminals are out of control. Deterrence through tougher penalties and putting people in jail is the proposed solution to reducing crime.


• The police are handcuffed so there isn’t anything being done to stop a crime that is taking place.

There is no deterrent. If you arrest someone they will go back on the street because there isn’t jail space. Laws have gotten too soft. When you have no deterrence, you’re going to have crime. There is a lack of regulations and enforcement. We need to do something more quickly than 5 years from now so the police, courts, and jail have the resources they need to make sure people know that if they commit a crime, there will be consequences.

8 people prioritized the need for community-based services to prevent incarceration (e.g., mental health, substance use treatment, housing). These respondents prioritized increasing community-based services over putting people in jail as the way to increase public safety. They cited homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorders as major underlying issues that need to be addressed to reduce incarceration.


• To improve public health and safety, we need more people to be involved, and need our leadership

to encourage and nourish involvement. I watched the jail tour video. The mold falling down on people is making people unsafe. Our government agencies and community agencies do things that make people unsafe. We need to provide services people need inside the jail, but mostly provide services outside the jail to keep people out of it.

• I commute to work on foot/bus through downtown every day. I feel very safe. I do see homeless folks. There aren’t adequate services for them. We need to do more. We can’t understand the need for a jail if we’re using old, biased frameworks for understanding that. In an environment where we’re not providing adequate housing and services, we’re still contributing to that ingress for new incarcerated people. We can’t use data from that and say we understand the need for a jail. We need to first focus on services and housing, then we can look at jail needs. Do this in the right order. Get rid of punishment mentality and focus on people as human beings.

Three additional comments were made that did not clearly fall into the above categories:

• Substance use is a disease not a moral failing. Mental health too. Incarcerating people who are ill in a jail is reprehensible. The fact we are doing it in the current jail is horrifying. Nobody should be living or working in that. Question is about “increasing capacity of diversion programs.” (e.g., Mental Health & Drug Court). My understanding is that neither of those programs is ever full. We have some community pieces that aren’t being implemented. Why? There is discussion about it being dangerous in the community. It’s not unsafe here. It’s uncomfortable because there are a lot of homeless, mentally ill. Seeing them on the street is uncomfortable. Why is the jail giving people Subutex rather than Suboxone in jail. Suboxone is far better. I think that’s about money and that’s a disservice.

• There is an exhaustive list the county needs to improve for public safety, and improve the lot of these folks that are screaming for help. I want to encourage there to be funds toward public facing data interface for what’s going on.


• Reiterate about assistive living not having enough people due to mandates. I do in-home healthcare through COPES program. I lost one because we couldn’t go in and see them. I’m a single mom with 2 boys. Had to move from Bellingham to Blaine because they raised rent $250. I can’t afford that. I live in the Birchwood neighborhood. When the Salvation Army changed things, my kids couldn’t go to the 7-11 without being asked to buy drugs. People/businesses are getting pushed out of Bellingham because of the crime. What’s left? Criminals. Do something or Bellingham won’t be what it was.

Several people spoke from their unique role and perspective within the criminal legal system (they were commenting as a citizen and not as a representative of a particular organization). Most of these comments are a call for more services for people involved in the criminal legal system:

• An advocate for people in the criminal legal system:

o TheRestorativeCommunityCoalitionhasbeenstudyingtheproblemofmassincarceration

in the world and the US outpaces everyone. Why is our county so determined to build another incarceration facility in the county? Over the past three years, we have been in lockdown. I had conversations with people in the community who are not part of the system, and have submitted a document. We have a choice to build a large facility and put services inside it, or build a small jail and put massive services in the community. It’s a better return for taxpayers to build a small facility and put services in the community.

• People with lived experience in the criminal legal system:

o The most important thing to prevent crime (violentoreconomic), as well as to heal from

having committed a crime, is to find safe places to cry. All crime/unhealthy behavior comes from past trauma, which means unshed tears. A safe place to cry, whether in jail, in rehab, homes, businesses. Human beings need to express pain through tears. It’s not a bad thing to cry, it’s necessary to retain our sanity.

o When you threw me in jail you hadn’t done any work on that jail.The ceiling was falling down on my head. I was denied medication for my mental health while having a mental health crisis and couldn’t go to the hospital. The jail is filled with people needing mental health services. Until you address their mental health issues and get places to put people when they get out of jail, a bigger jail is not the solution. What’s going to happen when people get out of jail and nobody will rent to them or give them a job because they have a record and you’ve spent all the money on a fancy new jail and nothing for the services we need more than anything else? There are so many people who need detox services and can’t get them. You need to work on mental health. Jail is not a mental health hospital. You don’t have officers qualified to deal with them. You need a mental health facility and services. There are hundreds of women who are locked up in jail instead of their perpetrators. Until you fix issues none will be solved.

• Provider of services for people who are homeless:

o I’m with Community Outreach Services. I do a lot with homelessness.This is a call for

services before the jail. We need to bring it under control in a calm, rational fashion. We have had a homelessness emergency since 2017. Engage that group where we find an inordinate amount of mental health/substance use disorder issues. We still have five years to wait for a jail to come on line. We need to help these people right away. If you do a jail in


a remote location, we know people who use the remote court system are more likely to be found guilty than if you are in person. Must provide services before jails.

• Re-entry Specialist in the jail:

o I am the re-entry specialist at Whatcom County Jail.There was no re-entry specialist from

2020-2022. For this year there was one mental health specialist until she went on maternity leave in Sept., then we got a couple more. We don’t have enough room for more re-entry or mental health specialists. I’m trying to set inmates up with mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services and housing when they get out, but there are no services or available housing for them. We have one individual who does SUD assessments in the jail. It’s really difficult. Hope that, as a community, we can work together to get these services.

• Corrections Deputy with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

o I’ve not been asked to participate in this. I’m here to give the perspective of a corrections

officer in jail. I’ve been there 21 yrs. Recovering from a traumatic brain injury from dealing with a person in jail. There’s a whole different perspective inside the building. The video tour doesn’t do it justice. You don’t hear the banging and kicking. Smell the feces people are smearing on the windows. You don’t see the inmates who are deteriorating waiting for services in Western State Hospital. Civil flips: After waiting for 4-6 months for no bed dates, their crimes are dismissed and they are civilly committed for two months or so and then released into the community. There are a lot of global things that need to be done to correct what is going on.

• Former deputy in the Sheriff’s Office:

o I worked for the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Dept. in the jail for 27 years. I was on the Jail Yes

Committee in 2004 when citizens voted for 0.1% tax to finance a new jail. In 2008, Pete Kremin proposed we take the money from that into taking care of the jail and stop financing from the general fund at the 2006 level. Why did the vote go wrong in 2015? It’s because people didn’t trust the Council to do what they said they would do. In 2017, local attorneys said they didn’t want to move to LaBounty. They made a campaign against it. We need to correct that history. If we start working on the LaBounty property now, it will take time to do the ground preparation before we can do construction. How many millions of dollars have been spent fixing the jail when it should have gone to a new jail?

• Former Bellingham Police Officer:

o I worked downtown as bicycle officer for two years working mostly with transient

population. As a bike officer, I held everybody accountable. At the end of the day, they said thank you because I always treated them as a human. What is happening is not humane. We’ve tried housing people without treating their issues in 22 North and have seen what a disaster that was. More harm than good. Have learned from that. I’m a proponent of a new jail. In response to why Drug Court & Mental Health Court aren’t being used. It’s because we can’t arrest them on drugs anymore so we can’t force them into Drug Court. I fully support having a jail, and after, legislation to not have to have it on their record after they have done their time. That is more humane.


Wrap Up and Next steps:

Holly O’Neil, facilitator, thanked everyone for their participation and offered her appreciation to the members of the SAC for being here to listen. Notes from this session, taken by Mardi Solomon, also of Crossroads Consulting, will be summarized into a report and provided to the SAC for consideration at their next meeting on December 15.

Attendees were encouraged again to watch and share the Jail Tour Video and take the online survey (closes Nov 18). If attendees had any additional comments, they were asked to send them via email to: SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us. Councilmember Barry Buchanan thanked everyone for attending.



SAC attendance required

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, November 17, 2022 10:00 – 12:00 pm Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/71145/Summary—-SAC-Mtg-7—Nov-17-2022 ]

SAC Participants: Barry Buchanan, Stephen Gockley, Cliff Langley, Erika Lautenbach, RB Tewksbury, Peter Frazier, Arlene Feld, Teresa Bosteter, Kristin Hanna, Kendra Cook, Scott Korthuis, Perry Mowery, Michael Lilliquist, Brel Froebe, Maialisa Vanyo, Tyler Schroeder, Mary Lou Steward, Eve Smason-Marcus, Brooke Eolande, Don Almer (on behalf of Rebecca Mertzig), Starck Follis, Doug Chadwick, Atul Deshmane, Darlene Peterson, Harriet Markell

Support: Holly O’Neil, Facilitator; Mardi Solomon, Notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment Report Writer

Absent SAC Members/Alternates: Jack Hovenier, David Goldman, Chad Butenschoen, Daniel Hammill, Brian Heinrich, Seth Fleetwood, Anthony Hillaire, Jon Mutchler, Roman Swanaset-Simmonds, Eric Richey, Satpal Sidhu, Heather Flaherty, Deborah Hawley, Kara Mitchell Allen, Eli Wainman, Daron Smith, Bill Elfo, Rebecca Mertzig

To view video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to Order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair Land Acknowledgement

Review Agenda & Timeline

• At Dec. 15 meeting the SAC will discuss public input from the Town Hall, and The Vida Agency’s (TVA) survey and interviews/focus groups

• The complete Needs Assessment Report will be discussed at the Jan. 19 SAC meeting.

• The report will go to Council at the end of Jan.

SAC Feedback – What You Heard at the Nov. 15th Town Hall

• A significant number of people in the community feel less safe than they did 10 years ago. What causes this change in experience?

• Near universal support for a new jail.

• Tenor of conversation has changed. Used to be more focus on ancillary services (MH), now people

want a jail soon and they want to put people in jail who are hurting our community.

• Concern about expense to build jail.

• Costs have risen over the years.

• One gentleman said “$150M, no! $75M, yes.” It will be hard to find a balance between what we need

and what people will support. Are there ways to get more funding other than asking the public?

Concerned about when we can get a jail if we don’t an initiative passed this time.

• Support for expanding services in the community.


• Staffing more law enforcement is something we can do to address safety concerns.

• This is not specific to Whatcom County. It’s across the country.

• Increasing law enforcement and size of jail has ripple effects. If you increase the numbers of people

who go through the system by increasing law enforcement and increasing jail capacity, the system is going to grow. It will require more prosecutors, courtrooms, judges, etc. The only way to keep costs under control is to figure out a way to turn the crime rate around that doesn’t result in jamming more numbers through the system.

• If we’re putting forward incarceration & prevention reduction recommendations there needs to be public education about how these things will reduce crime. People think of jail as the solution, and we need public education to help them see other options.

• What are we going to do between now and 5 years from now? How to reduce the jail population? We need to plan what we will do, and start imagining the interim solution. Have a vision and paint a picture to increase the public’s confidence and build momentum for enthusiastic support.

• Should we have something in the Needs Assessment about the interim solution?

Reflections on Jail Tour Video

• Knew the jail was bad, but to see the deterioration was heartbreaking. Need to show the public we are taking action now. There are companies we can outsource services to (e.g., laundry, food prep). We should explore making these changes immediately.

• It is critically important that we message what is really going on. There is a lot of misinformation and inaccuracies being spouted. The way to respond to the firehose of falsehood is with a firehose of truth. Encourage everyone to watch the video. If the public knew how bad it is, they would support whatever the cost is.

• Video should have shown the electrical room. Extreme fire hazard.

• For accountability for law enforcement, hope they pay attention to Pierce Cty. Sheriff’s Office

Facebook page that does a great job showing what is happening with crime. In Oct. BPD posted a two- hr. timespan of crimes happening. Make people aware what is happening so they see the needs for a jail and accountability.

• The video points to a lack of accountability in upkeep of the jail. Brel raised a lot of questions in an email about the video. If this is the way the current jail is kept up, how do we trust that doesn’t happen with a new facility?

Vision, Values, & Goals Poll Results

• 84% of SAC members participated – 34 SAC members, including 13 who also serve on the IPRTF, + 3 additional IPRTF members.

• There was a high percentage of agreement with the visions, values, and services/systems/facilities goals statements. We will wait to do further work on these until after we receive the public input from TVA.

SAC Discussion – Suggested Revisions to Needs & Recommendations

Proposed Approach: We are trying to come to agreement on the needs and recommendations the SAC wants to put forward. There is not a need to pit them against one another, prioritize, rank, or choose. We can propose them all.

Needs & Recommendations Poll Participation:

• 82% of SAC members responded to the poll.

• There was 69%-97% agreement with the 18 needs and corresponding recommendations (recs).


Discussion of Proposed Revisions

• Proposed revisions to the needs and recs are based on the poll results and input from all of the SAC

meetings at which the needs & recs were addressed, and discussions with subject matter experts.

• Main Question: What revisions would increase your level of agreement with the needs & recs?

• Today we are focusing only on the needs and recs that were revised in a major way.

Community-based BH Services #4:

• This is an improvement. Original need was too narrow.

• There are two related issues: 1) Whether someone qualifies for involuntary commitment (ITA), and if

they are committed; 2) the restorative aspect. They are both important. Would continue in the

broader direction, but include the ITA piece.

• The issue about competency restoration is very different than having someone placed in involuntary

treatment. These are two different processes. Competency restoration indicates someone already is entered into the criminal justice system. They may be sitting in jail until competency restoration can occur. With ITA’s, law enforcement can take someone to the hospital if they think the person’s issue is mental illness not criminal behavior. Keep in mind that both systems are terribly over-burdened. Last week there were no ITA beds in the entire state.

• We don’t have any outpatient competency restoration now. When people need to be diverted to ITA they are, whether they are in jail or the community.

• There is a workgroup that Barry & Perry formed in Aug. which came out of the SAC’s work. They have met twice. Yesterday Perry & Barry met with folks in King County about a diversion program they have. This info will be brought to the IPRTF Steering Committee in Dec. The work is ongoing. On Nov. 30, they will meet with a foundation working on funding related to the Trueblood decision.

• There are some great models in other counties to learn from about addressing need for competency evaluation and restoration.

• Perry: There are both outpatient and inpatient competency restoration services. Inpatient might fit better under jail-based services. The original recommendation didn’t get enough input from Designated Crisis Responders (DCRs). Now there are new programs being implemented. A Co- responder program will be initiated before the end of the year for mental health providers to ride along with deputies from the Sheriff’s Office. They have a direct link to the DCRs which will reduce response time, so that concern is being addressed.

• These are two glaring gaps for services in our community. Where are these people going to go for treatment? We don’t have the beds. That is not good care. To some extent this is about justice. It is not just to have people languishing waiting for restoration indefinitely. The state is responsible and hasn’t done their job which is why counties are taking it upon themselves. It requires a huge amount of funding to create facilities with properly trained people to provide these services.

Initial Detention/Court Hearings #1:

• The need is broad and nails it. The recommendation is pushing the tool judges will be using and seems too narrow. A tool alone will not replace the discretion of a judge. It won’t be a big fix.

• Judges are using the Public Safety Assessment and have been for a long time, so this isn’t new.

• The value of keeping it is that, taken together, the recs have a comprehensive and balanced approach.

• Like these changes. Would like it more if it would end cash bail completely.

• Ending cash bail is a national discussion. There is a lot of work going on about this. It’s not something

we can research and make a recommendation about quickly. It is a longer-range policy decision. The IPRTF will likely be working on this.


• There is a lot of research around ending cash bail and feel there should be a rec to end cash bail to reduce the number of people detained in jail pretrial.

• We need to parse through the research and see how to apply it in Whatcom Cty.

• The proposed rec is directly responsive to 2 recs in the Vera Inst. Report: 1) There are racial disparities

in the way we release and detain, and as long as it’s left up to subjective judicial officers’ decisions, the disparities will be exacerbated. The rec was to adopt an evidence-based assessment tool. The Risk Assessment Tool has been adopted in Superior Court. Hope is there would be a unified risk assessment tool and process adopted by all the courts.

• Could note in the report that ending cash bail is an issue that is important to the SAC.

• Like succinctness of the need. Rather than being specific in the rec, we could say, “Explore &

implement current evidence-based and promising practices related to reducing the number of people detained” so we aren’t wedded to specific actions as the research around the country continues. Definitely need to define the need and recommend that action be taken to find the best ways to address it.

• The statements need to be very specific to be transparent and build trust.

Initial Detention/Court Hearings #2:

• If the rec stands in isolation, it suggests the reasons for racial disparities lie within law enforcement being biased, but a lot of the disparities occur before and outside law enforcement. Keep the rec but acknowledge that the origin of disparities is just as much inside as outside.

• Don’t know that it’s legal to get the race/ethnicity info from everyone. Getting real data is tricky. We have tried to do this and it didn’t work.

• Wendy: We collect race/ethnicity data regularly. It is self-report. There are a lot of people who are bi/multi-racial, but they can only pick one option in our system. We are looking at how to fix that.

• The core of the rec is about the data systems. Now we don’t have the systems. We are hindered by an evidence-based way to tackle disparities. Let’s build systems that are better than what we have.

Discussion of both Post-Incarceration Community Supports & Housing for At-Risk Populations:

• Post-Incarceration Supports #1 is a general need/rec about housing. The suggestion is to delete that and keep the housing recs focused on the at-risk population we are looking at, and there are two needs/recs related to that.

• Housing for At-Risk Populations Need #3: Change “supervised housing” to “supportive housing.”

• We need housing with supervision for this population. Having that support onsite is vital for this type

of housing.

Q: Do we have data on the percent of people who come into jail unhoused/unstably housed? It would be great if the jail could collect this info.

A: From the inmate survey we know that ~70% of the respondents had been living on the street, in a shelter, RV, or staying with friends/family.

• Dedicating funding for housing for more targeted populations feels very important and could have some real impact on reducing recidivism.

• Make #3 broader than just therapeutic courts. About 85% people in LEAD & GRACE are unhoused, and so are people on sentencing alternatives. Housing is a huge problem for all these groups.

• The idea behind therapeutic programs is wrap-around services and accountability. A fair amount of resources are expended to accomplish this. Without housing, the programs tend not to be very successful. Currently there isn’t dedicated housing for people involved in therapeutic court programs.


• Some discomfort with leaving out the vocational support. People need work.

• The issue is with housing affordability. More and more people are going to become homeless. All

efforts to address affordable housing are important. Hesitant to focus only on people coming out of


• Could include stats/info in the Needs Assessment about lack of affordable housing and homelessness.

• There are community groups working on these topics. We need to make sure what we say about

housing is in keeping with what they say. This is a question about scope as well. Is the SAC putting forward recs about housing in general?

Draft Facilities Recommendations

• In need #1, replace “modern” with “flexible.” Add “designed to be well-maintained.”

• Add educational & vocational services to rec #1.

• Agree with proposed additions. Facilities #2: Detail is which experts and how they come together with

the Sheriff’s Office and what this community needs.

• Re location & size: We don’t want to go through this exercise again in 20 yrs. We need to right-size for

now and have space to expand if necessary.

• Have good communication with the public. They want #1 but not so expansive that the cost becomes

prohibitive. We don’t want to come back in 5 years because the jail budget has been defeated again.

Be sensible and get it passed this time.

• Everything we do should be about reducing crime. We are missing the other half of the picture with

the facilities needs/recs. A secure detox facility, community-based treatment facilities for MH, addictions, crisis services also are needed. Prevention and re-entry require facilities too. There are only two secure detox facility in the state and neither is near us. It would be very expensive to build. Something in the facilities section needs to include facilities for prevention.

• It would be helpful to have Lindsey Clark, re-entry specialist at the jail, talk to us and review these needs/recs.

• We need to do whatever we can to help her.

• Prioritize inmates’ comfort and quality of life in facilities recs.

• Getting people into inpatient treatment from the jail is not going well. They are waiting 6-8 weeks.

Next Steps

• The first draft of the Needs Assessment Report will be emailed to the SAC on Mon. Nov. 21, and it will be posted on the SAC webpage.

• Review draft and send any comments to: SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us.

• We will get public input from TVA and discuss this and the Town Hall input on Dec. 15. We will discuss

the Needs Assessment Report in light of this input.

• The IPRTF also will look at this on Dec. 19.

• In early Jan. there will be another poll of the SAC/IPRTF to gather additional feedback on the Needs

Assessment Report.

• At the SAC meeting on Jan. 19, the SAC will vote to approve the report, and on Jan. 23, the IPRTF

serving as the Law & Justice Council will vote about endorsing the Needs Assessment.

Workgroups Needed:

• RB would be happy to be part of a communications subgroup. Barry supports RB’s suggestion and

would like to work with him on communications.


• The Vision, Values, & Goals sub-committee (Kristin Hanna, Michael Lilliquist, & Deborah Hawley) also is invited to meet again to make any needed edits to the statements.

• Volunteers also are requested to serve on a workgroup to apply the Racial Equity Toolkit to the SAC’s work prior to the Dec. 15 meeting.

o EveSmason-Marcus, StephenGockley,& TeresaBosteter volunteered.



SAC attendance required 

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, December 15, 2022 10:00 – 12:00 pm Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/71496/Summary_SAC-Mtg-8_121522 ]

SAC Participants: Barry Buchanan, Stephen Gockley, Bill Elfo, Daniel Hammill, Cliff Langley, RB Tewksbury, Peter Frazier, Arlene Feld, Teresa Bosteter, Kristin Hanna, Kendra Cook, Heather Flaherty, Scott Korthuis, Kara Mitchell Allen, Perry Mowery, Michael Lilliquist, Brel Froebe, Maialisa Vanyo, Mary Lou Steward, Eve Smason-Marcus, Starck Follis, Doug Chadwick, Atul Deshmane, Harriet Markell, David Goldman

Support: Holly O’Neil, Facilitator; Mardi Solomon, Notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment Report Writer

Absent SAC Members/Alternates: Jack Hovenier, Brooke Eolande, Chad Butenschoen, Brian Heinrich, Seth Fleetwood, Anthony Hillaire, Erika Lautenbach, Darlene Peterson, Jon Mutchler, Roman Swanaset-Simmonds, Eric Richey, Tyler Schroeder, Satpal Sidhu, Deborah Hawley, Eli Wainman, Daron Smith, Rebecca Mertzig

To view video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to Order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair Review Agenda & Timeline – Holly O’Neil, Facilitator, Crossroads Consulting

Meeting Objective: Use data gathered by The Vida Agency (TVA), and input from SAC members, the Town Hall, Jail Inmate & Staff Surveys, and Racial Equity Toolkit Analysis, to reflect on the Vision, Values, & Goals, and Needs/Gaps & Recommendations, and make needed revisions.

Re-cap of Public Input – Mardi Solomon, Crossroads Consulting

Review of results from Draft Public Engagement Report:

• TVA conducted 6 listening sessions with 29 participants, and 8 informal interviews. The participants included representatives of immigrant communities, Lummi Nation, and formerly incarcerated people and their families.

• It is important to keep in mind the small sample size when interpreting the results.

• Key insights from Listening Session/Interview participants are presented in the TVA draft Engagement

Report (pg. 10).

Review of results from Draft Survey Report:

• The survey was developed by TVA and the Justice Project Planning Team.

• TVA used many methods to recruit participants between Oct. 25-Nov. 18.

• The survey sample was 1,704 valid responses.

• This was a self-selected sample.

• TVA highlighted polarized views regarding whether people feel safe in the community or not, and whether people trust they will be treated fairly by the criminal legal system or not.


• People who feel safe in the community and those who do not trust they will be treated fairly by the criminal legal system want more resources going toward behavioral health services. Those who do not feel safe in the community, and people who trust they will be treated fairly by the criminal legal system, feel that more law enforcement and investment in jail facilities are needed.

• People who feel safe in the community had a much higher level of alignment with the SAC vision statement than those who don’t feel safe in the community.

• Regarding the SAC values statements: The survey asked participants to rank the values in order of priority. These rankings were compared with the SAC and Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) members’ level of agreement with the values statements in the poll completed in October. Note that the TVA survey used abbreviated versions of the values statements.

o Protecting public health and safety was the highest priority for everybody.

o There also is a high level of agreement with “Evaluating if current programs, interventions, and processes are working as intended.”

o TVA survey respondents ranked “using evidence-based decision making” as 2nd priority, while

SAC/IPRTF members did not have a very high level of agreement with this statement (83%).

o “Early interventions” was ranked 4th highest priority by survey respondents; mostly by people

who feel they will not be treated fairly by the criminal legal system, and those who feel safe in their community. SAC members had a high level of agreement with this value (which was combined with “saving money over the long-term” in the previous version of the value statement).

o SAC members had a high level of agreement with “making decisions that reflect  community priorities.”

• Key insights from the survey report: Investing in incarceration prevention was a high priority. There is support for some investment in jail facilities. The majority prioritize improving mental health and substance use disorder services in the community, in jail, and post-incarceration.

Key Take-aways from Nov. 15 Town Hall:

• People spoke to the need for a new jail, the feeling that Bellingham is less safe, the importance of accountability to reduce crime, and the need for community-based services.

Discussion of Public Input

• This public input is valuable and confirms existing impressions of how people are thinking about these issues.

• The input from the listening sessions affirms what will reduce recidivism and incarceration, and echoes the input from the jail surveys that call for expanding mental health and substance use treatment, and re-entry support.

• Note that we have not surveyed victims of crime and some see this as a gap.

• People who participated in the Town Hall and/or completed the survey may have been victims of

crime. Given that people volunteered to participate in the Town Hall, listening sessions, and survey, we can surmise that they feel strongly about these issues. The Sheriff’s Office could supply a list of victims in Whatcom County, if follow up research was desired at some point in the future.

• Lack of jail space has resulted in people not being booked for crimes such as residential burglary.

• Suggestion to gather more law enforcement input as well.

• How do we decide who to listen to? How much bias is there? We have done our best, and gotten good

input, but acknowledge this is an imperfect process.


• It is important to look at the numbers of respondents who have lived experience with incarceration when interpreting the results. Also recognize that people with a history of involvement in the criminal legal system may not want to participate in these kinds of research activities.

• Should have gathered socioeconomic information as well because people in poverty are more impacted by the criminal legal system.

• At this point in our Needs Assessment process, we are done with data collection, but it is important to note other information that needs to be gathered.

• TVA will be finalizing both of the reports and the final versions will be sent to the SAC next week. Proposed Revisions to Vision, Values, & Goals – Michael Lilliquist for the subcommittee

• The subcommittee met Dec. 7 and discussed revisions to vision, values, & goals statements.

• Almost 1⁄4 of respondents to the TVA survey had personal or family experience with the criminal legal


• TVA survey responses revealed groups who didn’t see their priorities reflected in the vision, values,

and goals statements.

• We can find a very broad path down the middle using the survey results to analyze and revise the

vision, values, and goals statements. All respondents prioritized protecting public health and safety; using evidence-based decision making; evaluating programs to see if they are working; and investing in incarceration prevention, community services, behavioral health and early interventions. This is a broad middle area of agreement.

• Almost all supported a new, safer jail that provides in-house services and support for after-jail services in the community.

• The area of overlap is huge, but we missed that half the respondents did not feel safe in the community, and a significant proportion of those say that the draft vision did not agree with their own. Those same respondents more strongly endorsed jail investments and law enforcement.

• If they didn’t find what they wanted in the vision, we can find ways to include what they want that are in harmony with what we already have been working on.

• For those who do feel safe, the vision and values do align quite well with their values and priorities.

• Those who felt they would not be treated fairly by the criminal legal system more strongly endorsed

what we were already including in the vision and values: prevention, restoration, and re-entry support.

• What we have is so close, but we didn’t explicitly say that a central goal of all these efforts is to reduce

crime. Reducing crime unites prevention, restoration, and accountability.

• This is not about punishment as a value or goal. Accountability is a mechanism to reduce crime; to hold

criminals accountable so they won’t commit more crimes, or prevent them from committing crimes in

the first place.

• The highest values are justice and fairness.

• The subcommittee added “reduce crime” to the vision statement and hope that the people who don’t

feel safe and are looking for more jail, accountability, and law enforcement, will read that and see their concerns are included. Those people already were endorsing rehabilitation, community services, treatment, and re-entry supports. This change was made in direct response to the survey results.

• Other changes:

o Replaced“rehabilitation”with“restoration ”which has less clinical baggage.

o Switched from present tense to aspirational language (from“is”to“will be”).

o Emphasized financial prudence as an important value in decision making, and linked it with the other values (e.g., we use evidence-based programs because they are cost-effective).


o Made a specific system goal about avoiding unnecessary pretrial time in jail.

o Strengthened the statement about policy changes being key to accomplishing goals.

Discussion about Proposed Revisions to Vision Statement

• Does accountability mean incarceration? Is that how we get accountability?

• May need to be more direct about use of a jail. The statement is lacking expression of reverence

toward law enforcement.

• Concern expressed that these statements are so aspirational they may sound naïve. It needs to be

clear that, in addition to behavioral health services, we must have a jail of adequate size to make sure we do not experience booking restrictions. There has to be enough space and staff to hold people who need to be held accountable by means of incarceration.

• Noted that the Vision, Values, and Goals are at the broadest level, and that the specifics are laid out in the needs/gaps and recommendations.

• May be helpful to include the word “jail.”

• Could substitute “corrections facilities” for “jail” because the community is looking for something

broader than a jail.

• Need to acknowledge and respect the needs and wishes of our community, and the reality that some

people are not amenable to help and support. We need to show we understand this.

• Could change the order of the accountability piece to put incarceration first in the statement.

• The Sheriff’s Office hears the same kind of messages that were conveyed at the Town Hall about not

having adequate jail space to hold people accountable and protect the public so people feel safe. This

is important for the effective administration of justice.

• Would help this discussion to define accountable and accountability.

• Distinguish who is going toward alternatives and diversion, and who is going towards the jail. Can state

“To protect public safety, we recognize that certain high-risk individuals will require detention in the


• Some community education may be needed regarding recidivism and whether incarceration will

achieve the goal of reducing crime. The revised statement does not include “evidence-based practices.” Reassure the community that the effectiveness of incarceration and programs will be evaluated.

• All of the new programs suggested will cost a lot of money and they will be unproved because they are new. What if they don’t work? We have to have a jail because what we have now isn’t working and we need to put people who commit crimes somewhere. Don’t want to be back to booking restrictions on day one because it will take time to get these programs going. The money element is missing.

Discussion about Proposed Revisions to Values Statements

• The subcommittee reworked 3, 4, & 7 quite a bit and tightened up the wording. Discussion about Proposed Revisions to Goals Statements

• There are three types of goals: systems, services, and facilities.

• Systems goal #3 was added in response to a request to incorporate finding from the Vera Report about

unnecessarily long jail stays pretrial.

• Reword service goal #7 to be more active: Immediate access to behavioral health and medical…

• In goal #7, “housing, employment, and support systems” are the biggest problems the society is

dealing with, aside from climate change. This sounds too aspirational. It is important to strike the balance between aspiration and what is doable.


• The facilities goals don’t imply outpatient facilities. So much of this is about community services before, during, and after incarceration.

• People should email any additional input to Cathy at SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us for the subcommittee to consider.

 Action: Have a Vision, Values, & Goals subcommittee meeting to rework the statements. Volunteers: Michael, Kristin, Atul, Kendra, Bill, Arlene, Heather, and invite Deborah who participated in first subcommittee meeting.

Racial Equity Analysis – Stephen Gockley for the subcommittee

• The subcommittee, which consisted of Stephen and Teresa (Eve was not able to make the meeting), met on Nov. 29. It was a rich discussion.

• The subcommittee used the questions from the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) Racial Equity Toolkit. The questions guide assessment of how well we are accounting for racial equity issues.

• The subcommittee decided that it didn’t have the bandwidth or information to speculate about the equity issues in the needs and recommendations. The important thing is to be able to say that the SAC process took racial equity issues into account.

Key Takeaways:

• The SAC did not reflect the composition of the county population.

• While SAC meetings 2 & 3 presented a good amount of data about the criminal legal system and

behavioral health services, it is evident that there isn’t good data about racial equity concerns. We don’t even gather the data to answer a lot of the questions. Addressing the data gaps are among our needs and recommendations to the Council.

• The subcommittee did think that our meetings have acknowledged a sensitivity and commitment to racial equity, and we want to encourage this ongoing focus as the planning process moves from the SAC to Council to the community in the 2023 initiative campaign.

• Also want to encourage a system that has the data and measures progress toward reducing racial disparities going forward.

• The subcommittee proposed adding a need and recommendation to intentionally include BIPOC communities and people with lived experience with the criminal legal system in the next steps of this work.

Discussion of Proposed Revisions to Needs & Recommendations

1g. Need: BIPOC communities and people with lived experience with incarceration (personal or family member) should be more directly included in decision-making about policies and practices in the criminal legal system.

Recommendation: Ensure that the various steps of implementing the recommendations in the Needs Assessment intentionally and meaningfully include BIPOC communities and people with lived experience in the development of actions and the monitoring of progress.

• “People with lived experiences” should include victims of crime. Expect that victims of crime who are people of color have different experiences with the criminal legal system.

• The TVA survey compared responses from BIPOC and white participants, but the survey results were not available at the time the Racial Equity Analysis subcommittee met.

• Recommendations are being made that will ripple through the community for decades. BIPOC and people with lived experience are not at the table where these decisions are being made. Participation in decision-making was the focus of the subcommittee. In 2020, common critiques of the process were


expressed as “nothing about us without us” and that is the tone the subcommittee is recommending as this process moves forward.

1b. Need: Reduce the number of people detained in jail before trial or other case resolution.

Recommendation: Shift from a cash-based to risk-based pretrial justice system that uses a validated risk assessment instrument and a range of pretrial release and supervision options for pretrial defendants considered unlikely to threaten public safety.

• Should include something about increasing resources for the Public Defender’s (PD’s) Office.

• The PD’s Office is looking more holistically at defense work. Want to increase engagement in services.

The behavioral health specialists in the office are feeling overwhelmed with the workload. The PD’s

Office was not successful with a budget request to increase behavioral health staff.

• A private organization called Partners for Justice provides system navigators. The County could

contract to house a couple of these navigators in the PD office.

• Starck feels that reducing numbers is the key. This reflects a realization that what we have been doing

over the past decades has not been working well. He believes that there are people who belong in jail to keep society safe, but the idea that a little bit of jail time will change anything is absurd. Would like the PD’s Office to go in a different direction from incarcerating people. PD should be beefed up in a progressive way and not just getting more attorneys to take more cases to trial.

• Two additional areas that need attention:

o NeedmorediversionfromtheProsecutor’sside.StatuteRCW10.31.110allowsdiversionfor

mental and substance use disorders. That statute was to address what happened when the Blake decision was implemented decriminalizing drug possession. The community hasn’t taken steps to implement that diversion option and that is a missed opportunity.

o RCW10.77 addresses the competency process. It allows for a prosecutor diversion program for people involved in the competency process and we need that.

• The Crisis Stabilization Center has achieved state certification for 12-hour law enforcement holds in lieu of jail which is an option in RCW 10.31.110.

• Finding people who want to work at the PD’s Office is difficult.

• Cash bail is better for offenders with a felony charge because they get all that money back, whereas

with a bond, the offender loses 10%. A shift to cash bail should not be a recommendation.

• Clarification that the term “cash bail” (or cash-based approach) is being used to mean “bail” and is not

referring to the mechanism by which bail is paid (cash or bond).

• According to research in the Needs Assessment Report, 98% of people are in jail pretrial; 64% of

respondents in the jail inmate survey indicate their time in jail was longer because they couldn’t pay bail. The Vera Report said that these numbers could be reduced with bail reform. The report says we should shift from cash-based to risk-based assessment of pretrial defendants. We knew that was best practice five years ago. There is no reason that some people who commit a crime should wind up in jail, and others who commit the same crime go home simply because of their ability to pay bail. The jail is full and we need room for the people who really need to be there. Ending cash bail does not adversely affect public safety. It is the morally correct thing to do. People shouldn’t be in jail just because they can’t afford not to be.

• Bail has a logical flaw in it that risk-based assessment does not.

• Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.2 says that people should be released without bail unless there are other

conditions that require bail.

• Some people commit crimes intentionally to have meals, medical care, and a place to sleep.


2g. Need: Increase capacity of Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT)…

Recommendation: Support providers offering PACT services to increase their capacity to serve individuals involved,

or at risk of involvement, in the criminal legal system.

• Harriet likes the original recommendation better. The revised version does not say how.

• The reason this recommendation was changed was because the original referred to PACT services only for incarcerated individuals, but PACT services are needed for people in the community who are at risk

of incarceration too.

• Include this point in the original language.

Other comments:

• There needs to be a connection between the goals statements and the needs & recommendations. It’s hard to make the connection the way it is now. Start with goal, then need, recommendation, and intended outcomes.

• Unsure we have adequately covered finances. There is a need for data on cost of incarceration and cost of treatment programs and how much we spend or save by implementing different programs. Transparency about how money has been spent and will be spent will go a long way toward building trust in the process.

Next Steps

• Send in any additional comments ASAP (i.e., this week or early next week) to SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us. Please make comments as clear and neutral as possible.

• We will be getting input from the IPRTF on Dec. 19.

• We will revise the Vision, Values, & Goals; Needs & Recommendations; and Needs Assessment Report.

o We will send a Doodle Poll to schedule a session to revise the Vision, Values, & Goals.

• We will send a survey in early Jan. with the revised statements, and will send the full report in mid-Jan.

• At the next SAC meeting Jan. 19, we will vote. The goal is not formal consensus but to get as much

unity as possible.

• Reminder: Your name on the report does not mean you 100% endorse every word of the content. It acknowledges you participated in the process in good faith.

• The IPRTF/Law & Justice Council also will vote to approve the report on Jan. 23.

• Anybody who wants to help with the presentation to the County Council on Feb. 7 should let us know

by emailing SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us.



SAC attendance required

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Thursday, January 26, 2023 10:00 – 12:00 pm

Meeting Minutes

[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/72620/Summary-SAC-Mtg-10_012623 ]

SAC Participants: Barry Buchanan, Stephen Gockley, Bill Elfo, Doug Chadwick, Daniel Hammill, Cliff Langley, RB Tewksbury, Peter Frazier, Arlene Feld, Teresa Bosteter, Kristin Hanna, Kendra Cook, Scott Korthuis, Perry Mowery, Michael Lilliquist, Brel Froebe, Starck Follis, Atul Deshmane, Harriet Markell, David Goldman, Deborah Hawley, Brooke Eolande, Mary Lou Steward, Daron Smith, Erika Lautenbach, Darlene Peterson, Satpal Sidhu, Tyler Schroeder, Brian Heinrich (alternate for Fleetwood), Rosalee Revey-Jacobs (alternate for Hillaire), David Crass (alternate for Mertzig), Heather Flaherty

Support: Holly O’Neil, Facilitator; Mardi Solomon, Notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff; Jennifer Moon, Needs Assessment Report Writer

Absent SAC Members/Alternates: Jack Hovenier, Kara Mitchell Allen, Maialisa Vanyo, Eli Wainman, Eve Smason- Marcus, Chad Butenschoen, Seth Fleetwood, Anthony Hillaire, Jon Mutchler, Roman Swanaset-Simmonds, Eric Richey, Rebecca Mertzig

To view video recording, click on the link in the section heading.

Call to Order, Welcome – Barry Buchanan, Council Member and SAC Chair

• On Monday, Jan. 23, the Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force acting as the Whatcom County Law & Justice Council (by state statute) unanimously endorsed the Needs Assessment as ultimately approved by the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC). That endorsement is an indication of great work!

Review Agenda, SAC Purpose, & Process – Holly O’Neil, Facilitator

Decision-making process: A number of amendments were submitted by the deadline on Jan. 20. These will be

voted on today.

Confirm Quorum: The official number for a quorum is 12. Given a quorum, a motion passes with 50% + 1 of people in attendance.

Where we left off from last week’s meeting:

• There was a motion to approve the Justice Project Needs Assessment report to present to County Council. The motion was made by Scott Korthuis and seconded by Satpal Sidhu. This is what we ultimately will vote on today.

• At the Jan. 19 SAC meeting, eight amendments were proposed and approved. Proposed Amendments

Motion to approve amendment to A3, Rec 1: Moved by RB Tewksbury; 2nd by Michael Lilliquist. Provide a range of pretrial release and monitoring options in lieu of bail (adhering to Court Rule CrR 3.2).

Rationale: There is nothing in this change that indicates we are suggesting to not follow the rules. The qualifying statement of adhering to a Court Rule dilutes this recommendation. It confuses the public. I’m


not advocating breaking any rules. We are all in agreement that if someone needs to be in jail, they need to be in jail. I’m suggesting that how much money they have should have no bearing on the pretrial incarceration decision. If we want to reduce the jail population, and address the issue that 98% of people currently in jail are pretrial, we should look for other options in lieu of cash money bail.

Discussion: (Q=Question, A=Answer, C=Comment)

Q: What would be the difference if you kept “Court Rule CrR 3.2” in there?

A: The burden of proof would be on the people who added it. This statement about reducing the jail

population was already included. Also, this is something the County was informed of by the Vera Institute over five years ago. We were told that ending cash bail is best practice. This statement in the recommendation causes confusion with the public.

C – Michael Lilliquist: Embedded in Court Rule CrR 3.2 are two ideas we have never unpacked. It includes both the presumption people should be released on personal recognizance, and an endorsement of the cash bail process. We have never vetted those issues. By simply referring to this, we are invoking subject matter that has not been debated. The reason not to include this is because it is not a reference to one simple law. It says several things at the same time that we haven’t reached a consensus on.

C – Scott Korthuis: I’ll speak against it. If there is a rule out there that we abide by, I don’t see harm in leaving it in the text. I’m going to assume the judge knows the rule and will follow it anyway. I want the public to know there is a rule out there.

Motion regarding amendment to A3, Rec 1 did not pass.

11 Approve: Arlene Feld, Atul Deshmane, Brel Froebe, Brooke Eolande, David Goldman, Deborah Hawley, Harriett Markell, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, RB Tewksbury

15 Oppose: Barry Buchanan, Bill Elfo, Brian Heinrich, Cliff Langley, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, Daron Smith, David Crass, Erika Lautenbach, Kendra Cook, Peter Frazier, Satpal Sidhu, Starck Follis, Stephen Gockley, Teresa Bosteter

1 Abstain: Kristin Hanna

Unofficial Absentee Votes1: Eli Wainman – oppose; Eve Smason-Marcus – approve

Motion to approve amendment to C1, new Rec 3: Moved by Michael Lilliquist; 2nd by Kristin Hanna.

Select a location for the jail with due consideration of the comparative importance assigned to proximity to

various resources and services.

Rationale: I’m trying to make sure an important thing is not overlooked. C1, Rec 1 says to meet as many criteria as possible, equally considered. That isn’t the case, especially regarding the location criteria. In the Needs Assessment, it shows that some proximity criteria were prioritized by 86% of respondents (e.g., proximity to bus lines), and some were prioritized by 35% (e.g., proximity to freeway entrance). The location criteria are very different. One of the most important decisions that will be made is where to site this thing. We need to convey that there are different rankings of importance so decision-makers will consider that information.


C – Bill Elfo: Concerned that there are limited sites within the county where a jail could be constructed and this could delay implementation.

1 SAC members who were unable to attend this meeting were given the opportunity to indicate how they would have voted had they been present. Their preferences are presented here but were not counted in the official vote on each motion.


C – Arlene: Confused by the point. The list of important criteria didn’t include estimated cost. That is also an important criterion, but it isn’t on the list. Confused by putting extra weight on certain issues.

C – Michael: C1, Rec 2 is all about cost. It won’t be neglected. Rec 3 is about location. The relative importance of the factors related to location are important. Yes to cost, yes to all the criteria, and yes to all the location considerations. This completes the set of recommendations. It doesn’t shift it towards one. It makes sure all those aspects are included together.

C – Satpal: Since 85% of people felt it should be accessible by bus, that is very critical it be accomplished. It would solve a lot of issues we had 10-15 years ago. The criteria allow decision-makers to have a little bit more freedom to make the final decision.

C – Bill: Based on Satpal’s statement, I withdraw my objection. His office is going to have to find the location.

C – Cliff: This is what the public thinks, but what do the agencies that will be using it think? A lot of times the public doesn’t know some of the other considerations, so I’m opposed.

C – Atul: Being on the bus is not identical to being on the same site. There are impediments to getting on/off the bus for some people.

Motion approved.

27 Approved: Rosalee Revey-Jacobs, Arlene Feld, Atul Deshmane, Barry Buchanan, Bill Elfo, Brel Froebe, Brian Heinrich, Brooke Eolande, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, Daron Smith, David Crass, David Goldman, Deborah Hawley, Erika Lautenbach, Harriett Markell, Kristin Hanna, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Satpal Sidhu, Scott Korthuis, Starck Follis, Stephen Gockley, Teresa Bosteter

1 Oppose: Cliff Langley

1 Abstain: Kendra Cook

Unofficial Absentee Votes: Eli Wainman – approve; Eve Smason-Marcus – approve

Motion to approve amendment to C1, new bullet on Need statement: Moved by Peter Frazier; 2nd by Michael Lilliquist.

[A new jail that is…] Sized to assure booking restrictions in the county and its cities will not occur.

However, it is just as important that we build a facility with enough capacity to assure that the booking restrictions destabilizing our community come to an end. Booking restrictions are unfair to victims of crime and decrease public safety by tying the hands of our community, disabling us from holding people accountable when we find it necessary. In addition, ending booking restrictions would allow local law enforcement to comply with orders of the court commanding them to take specific persons into custody.


C – Kristin Hanna: I am hoping to add “sized and operated to assure booking restrictions will not occur.” It’s not just a matter of size. We have been talking all year about the way the jail is operated and how people are moved through the jail. I support the idea that booking restrictions should not be a thing in our county, but it’s not just a matter of jail size. It’s what we do when people are in there. If we add operations, it makes the priority more well-rounded.

Peter accepted this suggestion. Michael agreed.

     Rationale: Our community has done a great deal of work to divert people from jail through ART, GRACE, LEAD, the Crisis Stabilization Center, and well-upstream, the Children’s Initiative. In addition, local law enforcement is currently using alternatives to physical arrest and booking when possible. Our committee’s work product provides a roadmap for more efforts in jail diversion in the near future.


Discussion about Robert’s Rules of Order.

Amendment revised: Add new bullet to Need C1: Sized and operated to assure booking restrictions in the

county and its cities will not occur.

Q: Wondering if the addition of “operated” would include 23 & 1, where people are held in their cells for 23 hours a day. Is that considered a booking restriction, and if so would the word “operate” encompass that as well?

A: Bill Elfo: Booking restrictions are defined by our ability to take certain categories of offenders through the front door of the jail. It doesn’t affect how they are maintained once they are in the jail.

C – Stephen Gockley: I understand and share the spirit of this but don’t see how this is a realistic recommendation. There is no way we could have predicted COVID and the emergency public health requirements that had to occur. There are possibilities of equipment failures. There are too many unpredictable things to use this absolutist statement.

Motion approved.

23 Approved: Rosalee Revey-Jacobs, Arlene Feld, Atul Deshmane, Barry Buchanan, Bill Elfo, Brian Heinrich, Cliff Langley, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, Daron Smith, David Crass, David Goldman, Deborah Hawley, Erika Lautenbach, Harriett Markell, Kendra Cook, Kristin Hanna, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Scott Korthuis, Teresa Bosteter

6 Oppose: Brel Froebe, Brooke Eolande, Perry Mowery, Satpal Sidhu, Starck Follis, Stephen Gockley, 0 Abstain:

Unofficial Absentee Votes: Eli Wainman – approve; Eve Smason-Marcus – oppose

Motion to approve amendment to A1, Rec 2: Moved by Kristin Hanna; 2nd by Atul Deshmane.

Note: This following amendment is revised from the version sent prior to the meeting based on a suggestion

by Perry Mowery.

Explore and develop outpatient competency restoration services.

Rationale: The way it was worded before, “alternative to inpatient,” was a negative way of saying “outpatient,” and it was limiting competency restoration services to low-level felons. This new wording removes that restriction to allow for misdemeanors, and city courts that don’t deal with felonies. It’s more in line with what we have been doing this year, which is striving for inclusiveness.

Q: I wonder if it’s necessary to specify outpatient services?

A: Reminder that A1, Rec 1 is “Work with regional partners to identify needed systems changes to increase access to inpatient competency restoration.” Rec 2 is additive to Rec 1.

Q: I’ve never heard of outpatient competency restoration. These are people who are not able to appear in court. How do you do outpatient competency restoration services?

A: Perry: We have been doing research and have found that there are outpatient competency restoration programs in some counties as part of the Trueblood process. Competency restoration is accomplished in an outpatient setting and they are closely monitored by the court, the intent being that they are informed of the charge and develop the ability to assist in their own defense.

C – Starck Follis: Western State Hospital is not accepting people who aren’t in custody. They won’t give an estimated bed date for someone who is not incarcerated for when they can get in there for competency restoration services. People who are not in custody, who have had their proceedings stayed are in an unending limbo until outpatient competency restoration can be developed.

Motion approved.


27 Approved: Rosalee Revey-Jacobs, Arlene Feld, Atul Deshmane, Barry Buchanan, Bill Elfo, Brel Froebe, Brian Heinrich, Brooke Eolande, Cliff Langley, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, David Crass, David Goldman, Deborah Hawley, Erika Lautenbach, Harriett Markell, Kendra Cook, Kristin Hanna, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Scott Korthuis, Starck Follis, Stephen Gockley, Teresa Bosteter

0 Oppose:

0 Abstain:

Unofficial Absentee Votes: Eli Wainman – approve; Eve Smason-Marcus – approve

Motion to approve amendment to B2, Rec 1: Motion by Atul Deshmane; 2nd by Brel Froebe

Replace current recommendation with:

Rec 1: Conduct analysis of root causes of incarceration and develop targeted strategies to measurably increase diversion.

Rec 2: Ensure that all county law enforcement employees, jail staff, and staff in all court systems maintain data systems adequate to identify what factors may support diversion strategies.

Rec 3: Conduct a publicly available quarterly analysis of diversion actions taken to reduce incarceration.

Rationale: I took the approach we used for A4 in the last meeting, and have broken down the recommendation into three categories: address root cause, collection of adequate data by those in the jail incarceration system, and accountability and traceability of actions taken to support diversion. This is the same three-part approach we took before: analysis, data collection, and follow-up action.

      C – C –

C –

C –

C –

Michael: I’m opposed because I don’t think this is a substitute. The original recommendation talks about stable funding, the resources to do the work. The new recommendations talk about data, and don’t talk about funding. We would lose a great deal if we dropped the current Rec 1.

Harriet Markell: Agree with Michael. Finding out what the root causes of incarceration are doesn’t necessarily lead to strategies that increase diversion. It’s a non-sequitur.

Cliff Langley: We are trying to get a facility built. We keep adding stuff that will make it more expensive when we put it out to the public. Concerned about the costs we are adding.

Atul: Root cause analysis is what is needed to systemically address diversion. Don’t have a quick and easy way to address Michael & Harriet’s concerns.

Michael: These seem like systems recommendations but they are in the services section.

Motion regarding amendment to B2 did not pass.

3 Approved: Atul Deshmane, Brel Froebe, Deborah Hawley

25 Oppose: Rosalee Revey-Jacobs, Arlene Feld, Barry Buchanan, Bill Elfo, Brian Heinrich, Brooke Eolande, David Goldman, Cliff Langley, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, Daron Smith, David Crass, Erika Lautenbach, Harriett Markell, Kendra Cook, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury, Satpal Sidhu, Scott Korthuis, Starck Follis, Stephen Gockley, Teresa Bosteter

0 Abstain:

Unofficial Absentee Votes: Eli Wainman – oppose; Eve Smason-Marcus – approve

Motion to add new amendment B6 Need & Recommendations: Motion by Atul Deshmane; no 2nd. Motion

does not move forward.

Motion to approve the Justice Project Needs Assessment Report to present to County Council (Note: this includes the three amendments that passed in this meeting). Moved by Scott Korthuis; 2nd by Satpal Sidhu.


C –

C – C – Q:

A: C –

C –

Michael: I love everything in the report, but I’m worried about a glaring omission of anything having to do with the allocation of resources toward these problems. I feel we failed to address that issue. I think there needs to be guidance. The guidance is that there needs to be proportionate funding for all these needs. That’s a judgement call. county government decision-makers will have to take that up. Would have been good if we had come up with an allocation formula. I would like to see a great deal of money go into behavioral health, prevention, and re-entry support. I’d also like to see a fair amount of money going to make a safe, humane jail. We didn’t talk about funding and that seems like a mistake and it’s too late to fix it.

The next part of the agenda is to talk about an implementation plan and a lot of that is about funding. 

Atul: I will not be voting in favor of the report and will submit my reasons in a separate document.

Will there be a chance for the SAC to come back after the county has done some of the work Michael described, to share approval or provide input on the final product.

Barry: There will be opportunities over the next months to provide input. Will discuss that shortly.

Appendix N in the report is a chart of funding resources that are out there. It points the way toward funding many of the recommendations in the report. Thanks to Tyler and Cathy for putting this together.

Satpal: Appreciate all the work done over the year. This is a huge project. If we can accomplish parts of it and continue to work on these over time, that would be a great accomplishment for our community. We can be an example of how a community can cooperate on such a large project and make it happen a piece at a time. It can’t happen all at the same time. We are making significant steps in this direction.

C – Arlene: If the proposal for implementation doesn’t address what the public has been asking for in sufficient size, then those of us who have been working for a year on these plans, won’t even vote for this bill. The costs are very great and we expect the administration to attend to that and perform at the level we are recommending.

Motion approved.

25 Approved: Rosalee Revey-Jacobs, Arlene Feld, Barry Buchanan, Bill Elfo, Brian Heinrich, Daniel Hammill, Darlene Peterson, Daron Smith, David Crass, David Goldman, Deborah Hawley, Erika Lautenbach, Harriett Markell, Kendra Cook, Kristin Hanna, Mary Lou Steward, Michael Lilliquist, Perry Mowery, Peter Frazier, RB Tewksbury Satpal Sidhu, Scott Korthuis, Starck Follis, Stephen Gockley, Teresa Bosteter

3 Oppose: Atul Deshmane, Brooke Eolande, Cliff Langley,

1 Abstain: Brel Froebe

Unofficial Absentee Votes: Eli Wainman – approve; Eve Smason-Marcus – oppose

Next Steps: Implementation Plan – Barry Buchanan

• The implementation plan is in development. The SAC Planning Team will transition to become the Implementation Team.

• The Needs Assessment is a roadmap. The work will be separated into the same categories: Systems, Services, Facilities, and we’ve added a fourth category of Funding.

• There will be a series of four workshops organized around these topics, focus groups with target audiences, and a Town Hall between now and May.

• A formal presentation will be made to Council in late May or early June.

• We will keep the SAC involved and reach out for participation in workshops and focus groups. All of the

knowledge this group has accumulated over the course of this year is so valuable.

• Upcoming dates:


o Jan.30: Present the outline of the Feb.7 presentation to Council and gather feedback from interested SAC members. Cathy will send an invite to all SAC members.

o Feb.7: Present to County Council. They will then have a couple of weeks to digest the Needs Assessment.

o Feb.21: Present a resolution to Council that will integrate some of the implementation plan. Reflections on a Year of Work Together

• Recognition and gratitude for the hard work this group has done over the year.

• This is a long-range plan and it won’t happen instantly, but we have provided a sense of direction that

reflects an incredible amount of wisdom.

• Everyone had an opportunity to share their perspectives on the process, hopes for the future, etc.

Meeting adjourned at 11:55.



SAC attendance optional

Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Justice Project

Monday January 30, 2023 1:00 – 2:00pm


[ https://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/72621/Summary-from-SAC-Mtg-10A_013023 ]

Feedback on Presentation to Council on Feb. 7

Participants: Cliff Langley, Arlene Feld, Michael Lilliquist, Kristin Hanna, Jack Hovenier, Barry Buchanan, Starck Follis, David Goldman, Peter Frazier, Atul Deshmane, Stephen Gockley, Rebecca Mertzig, Perry Mowery, Deborah Hawley, Wendy Jones

Support: Holly O’Neil, Facilitator; Mardi Solomon, Notes; Cathy Halka, County Staff Overview of process for Council to Accept the Needs Assessment

• On Feb. 7, Barry, Jack, and Stephen will be presenting to Council.

• On Feb. 21, the Council will hear a resolution and will vote to accept the Justice Project Needs


Purpose of the Feb. 7 presentation to Council

• The presentation on Feb. 7 will address next steps. We will use the Needs Assessment Report as a guide for developing the implementation plan.

• In the coming months, there will be a lot more public process with workshops and focus groups, and another Town Hall Gathering in May.

• Hope to have an ordinance to Council in early June.

• Want to frame our emphasis on the Needs Assessment Report.

Group Brainstorm: Key Points that Should be Made in Presentation to Council

• We need to frame our appeal in a brief and simple way. Focus on what Council wants. The value of the services we are proposing to fill in the gaps, will provide greater public safety. We expect fewer people in the jails and more people receiving services to prevent incarceration.

• Create an overview for Council to keep in mind rather than summarizing the recommendations. Use the theme that this is about greater public safety.

• The recommendations are meant to work together. It’s about far more than the jail.

• The SAC represents many different stakeholders. This large group came together and came up with

a compromise. This work is in progress and this Needs Assessment is a good step.

• People have not been paying close attention since 2017, except when they are victims of crime or

see people with mental illness on the streets. We should go back to the work in the listening sessions and look at what people were asking for. Let them know that this community has bent over backwards, not only the SAC, but also the progress that has been made re jail diversion (LEAD, GRACE, Crisis Stabilization Center, children’s initiative).

• Identify to Council all the new, original input that went into the Needs Assessment process.

• Accentuate the behavioral health component. Some of the stats are important, and the resources

the SAC put together to meet needs. Make sure that is fresh in the Council’s mind.


• Stress how this approach is different from previous approaches. This isn’t a proposal for a new jail. It is a new approach to criminal justice. The jail is a part of that, but what that facility will look like is dependent upon a change in approach. When the jail failed, the main criticism was people didn’t want a bigger facility to house more people. We need to stress that the approach is to lower the numbers. The size and appearance of the jail will reflect that. [Group expressed a lot of agreement with this approach.]

• We’re not looking at the jail in isolation, it all has to be looked at holistically.

• What the jail looks like will be dependent on whether other programs will be implemented. If you

bring the numbers down, the jail won’t have to be as big.

• We know from the Vera Rpt. – The biggest factor affecting the size of the jail is system policies and


• None of this process would have occurred had the previous vote not failed. All the problems with

the jail brought to a head that we need a new facility. Had to force out programs so we could house people. A lot of the programs are important and necessary. Don’t know if we will get a reduction in the jail population as a result. Across the nation, people have been trying to figure out how to have fewer people in jail. The failure of the building brought other needs to light.

• The Executive branch policies need to be examined. The main changes that need to happen are with the Prosecutor’s Office, and diversion programs that could happen pre-charging (in the 1st 48 hrs. after booking). The Prosecutor’s Office needs to get programs going to reduce numbers. We need a place to bring people in initially.

• Stress that we did work hard to come together with agreement and cohesiveness.

• Modern day criminal justice is a balanced approach. It’s not lock everybody up or give everyone a

free pass. Crucial we get it right this time around.

• It’s not about building a new jail, but changing the approach. That’s what the voters want to hear.

The Prosecutor’s Office needs to be involved. If we don’t see change in every part of the system, it

will cause a roadblock.

• Hope to weave through the presentation that the jail is a reactive entity. Something can change at a

local, state, federal level that will make new demands on the jail. For ex., Wendy just received an email that the Governor is working on a bill that would shift responsibility for inpatient restoration treatment to county jails. They would have jails establish programs that are now facilitated in state psychiatric hospitals. Our facility doesn’t have space to treat the people who are here. Wendy feels it is not appropriate for the jail to become an inpatient restoration center. Need flexibility, in addition to services.

• Talk in thematic terms without going into detail.

• Address why Council should pay attention to this particular report. Show how it stands out from

previous efforts. We worked for a year. We had a broad cross-section of the community. Outreach to unvoiced communities, diversity of views on the SAC. The distillation of all this input coming into this report should give it great weight for the Council. Want them to hear of the care that went into building this report.

• The Council’s guiding principles for this group alluded to the type of system we came up with. We made it real.

• Draw attention to fact that some areas received broad support (e.g., pg. 16 of the TVA survey report). All prioritized investing in incarceration prevention. Draw attention to that.


• We are talking about altering the balance of funding for law enforcement and for social services. Don’t want to withdraw funding from law enforcement, but want the other side of the equation bumped up to a level that allows us to close the gaps in services to our community.

• It’s important to remind Council what the current state of the jail is and what it means for people (incarcerated and staff). Hope they have taken a recent tour and understand the consequences of booking restrictions, and understand the consequences of failure if we have no new jail. The status quo is inhumane and we don’t want to see another 10 years with this jail. It’s a liability.

• Barry: Showed the jail video to the whole Council. Will encourage them to tour the jail in person.

• Seeing the jail in person is huge. Caleb talks about the importance of trauma-informed design.

• We have a lot of data to offer. Reinforce points in the presentation with data where we can.

• Start by demonstrating that what we are doing now is not working for individuals who are

incarcerated or for the community. Then move into where we have common ground about how to

fix it.

• The SAC was limited in what we could address and this is our proposal to impact what we can.

• Represent that this is an impressive group of different opinions coming together (e.g., Chief of the

Jail, Public Defender).


One thought on “Whatcom County Justice Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee 2022-2023 searchable meeting summaries / Noisy Waters Northwest

  1. Pingback: Whatcom County Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force 2023 searchable meeting summaries / Noisy Waters Northwest | noisy waters northwest

Comments are closed.