Who is guiding the work of the Justice Project?

The Justice Project began with a Council-appointed Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) tasked with guiding the development of a Needs Assessment report. The SAC had 38 voting members including individuals with lived experience in the criminal legal system, mental health and substance use disorder providers, housing specialists, criminal justice advocates, as well as key city and county leaders.

The next step, which was to create an Implementation Plan, was led by the Executive’s Office with guidance from the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) acting as the Law and Justice Council (LJC) for Whatcom County. The IPRTF has been working since 2015 to provide resources to address the underlying causes of incarceration in order to lead people out of the criminal legal system and into supportive services, reducing the chances of reincarceration. The Justice Project – including the Needs Assessment and the subsequent Implementation Plan – has also been guided by input gathered through community focus groups, workshops, surveys, and listening sessions.

On June 12, 2023, the IPRTF endorsed the Draft Implementation Plan as ultimately approved by the County Executive and County Council. The Draft Implementation Plan then moved under the direction of the Executive and County Council. Councilmembers discussed the draft Implementation Plan during a reoccurring series of Committee of the Whole Justice Project Workshops. Workshop materials and information are available here. During a special meeting on June 26, 2023, County Council approved the Implementation Plan as amended

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1. What's in the Justice Project Implementation Plan?
2. Who is guiding the work of the Justice Project?
3. What is the timeframe for proposed projects in the draft Implementation Plan?
4. How is the work of the current Justice Project different than previous efforts and ballot measures?
5. How will the public be informed about progress toward implementation plan projects and goals? How will the county be transparent in tracking progress?
6. How can community members provide feedback, ask questions, and offer input on the Justice Project and Implementation Plan?
7. What funding is available for proposed projects in the Implementation Plan?
8. What efforts have already been made to increase and enhance services for substance use disorder, mental health, and emergency response in Whatcom County?
9. What incarceration prevention and reduction strategies are being implemented?
10. How are people with lived experience and BIPOC communities involved in this process?
11. Who will provide oversight for Implementation projects?
12. What is the plan for replacing the jail?
13. Will funding a new jail and behavioral health center limit or reduce funding for substance use disorder, mental health, and other wraparound services?
14. Who is in the Whatcom County Jail, and why are they in jail?
15. Why are people in the jail pretrial?
16. Can the County eliminate bail?
17. What criteria are used to determine jail size, and how many beds are being proposed?
18. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed location for a new jail and behavioral health and treatment facility?
19. What are the cost estimates for all the proposed facilities?
20. How was money from the 2004 tax (ballot measure) spent?