Bellingham police have been citing and releasing some people arrested on misdemeanor, and booking and then immediately releasing others. An officer might take some people to jail to have their photos and fingerprints taken, then have the jail release them.
My opinion? I’ll state the obvious: the criminal justice system in Whatcom County has reached peaked capacity. Jails are overcrowded. Trial calendars are filled. Trust me, I know.
The easy solution? Hire an additional judge, build additional courts, and build another jail. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen any time soon. Put simply, The County lacks resources to build jails and/or hire more court staff. This is not due to sloppy spending on the part of the County. The Whatcom Superior Court has already eliminated numerous services due to the decrease in revenues. That said, the likelihood of obtaining more revenue to hire another judge and/or construct another jail is slim to none.
The harder solution – and probably the more criticized; yet WORKABLE solution – is for the Prosecutor’s Office to negotiate more cases to a favorable resolution. They’re a trial-happy bunch, and unnecessarily so. Not every case must be brought to trial. Justice happens when all parties leave the courtroom satisfied with the result.
At any rate, overcrowded jails are symptomatic of larger problems. The County judiciary is burning the candlestick at both ends. We’re seeing a decrease in judicial revenues and an increase in inmates. The state of affairs certainly is alarming. Why now, and why all of the sudden?
A tough nut to crack.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.