Justice Project (Public Health, Safety & Justice Initiative)

Ordinance 2023-039

Implementation Plan & Ballot Proposition 

On July 11, 2023, Whatcom County Council passed Ordinance No. 2023-039, which adopts the Justice Project Needs Assessment Implementation Plan and authorizes the submission of a ballot measure to the voters of Whatcom County for a sales and use tax for public health, safety, and justice facilities and services. If approved, the ballot measure would authorize a sales and use tax of two-tenths of one percent (0.002 or 20 cents for every $100) for costs associated with a new County jail, behavioral health, substance use disorder treatment, supportive housing, public safety, and other criminal justice facilities and services.

The Implementation Plan adopted by the ordinance provides a road map for addressing issues in the criminal legal system and behavioral health services in Whatcom County and includes specific steps for providing adequate facilities, staffing, resources and services at all points of contact between the community and the criminal legal system. To accomplish these changes, the plan identifies 15 action items in the five following categories: 

  • Ensuring oversight, accountability, and transparency
  • Increasing access to behavioral health services 
  • Building the array of facilities needed to promote public health, safety, and justice
  • Expanding the capacity of programs to reduce incarceration/re-incarceration 
  • Making system changes with local, regional, state, and federal partners 

Needs Assessment Report 

On January 26, 2023, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) approved a motion recommending the final Justice Project Needs Assessment Report to the Whatcom County Council. The report makes recommendations for systems, services, and facilities related to public health, safety, and the criminal legal system in Whatcom County and was created with input from the SAC, the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF), subject matter experts, and the public.

Video Tour of County Jail 

In September 2022, a video tour of the county's main jail facility was created to give Stakeholder Advisory Committee Members a better understanding of the current conditions.

Town Hall Listening Session

On May 24th, the community gathered together to share feedback on elements of the draft Justice Project Implementation Plan during a Town Hall Listening Session hosted jointly by the Justice Project and Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force. Community members offered input on proposed projects for systems, services, and facilities related to public health and safety in Whatcom County. 

Background Information