State Judges Slammed For Releasing Hundreds Of People Accused Of Violent Crimes

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Mariane Angela Entertainment And News Reporter
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Judges in Spokane, Washington are facing scrutiny as the city has released dozens of individuals accused of serious crimes, including rape, child molestation, and making death threats, without requiring bail, as reported by The Spokesman-Review Sunday.

The releases occurred between January 2021 and September 2023, totaling 665 individuals accused of violent offenses. Even individuals charged with first-degree murder were released from detention. Concerns have been raised about public safety, as many of these individuals were released while awaiting trial. Several people who have spoken to The Spokesman-Review have raised their concerns over the alarming number of releases, including the county sheriff.

“The data is alarming. We are assessing how to respond,” County Commissioner Al French said.

Spokane Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Preston McCollam has had difficult conversations with crime victims or their family members who are frustrated and confused about why their attacker has been released. He has had to explain the legal principles of presumed release and bond postings, which can be especially challenging for victims who already feel let down by the system, having gone through the trauma of reporting the crime and undergoing examinations and interviews. (RELATED: Thousands Of Pedophiles Released From California Prisons After Less Than A Year: REPORT)

“They have to relive their trauma until the prosecutor and the detective say, ‘We are going to go ahead and file this charge,’ and then you find out, as a victim, that the person is out in the community,” McCollam said, the report added.

McCollam admitted that he was not surprised by the high number of releases, in fact, he expected them to be higher. “If somebody gets released in the domestic violence realm, often you start seeing an increase in additional repetitive domestic violence offenses. I’ve had cases where somebody is arrested and then they get arrested again the next day.”

Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels also expressed disappointment but not surprise at the jail release data. He cited Washington’s Criminal Rule 3.2 as a reason for the subjective interpretation of the law, allowing the judges to make decisions that might appear alarming based on their discretion. Nowels emphasized the importance of accountability for the elected officials making these decisions.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Julie McKay explained that the legal presumption is that those arrested will be released from jail. “The presumption when they hit jail is that they are going to go right back out. That’s where we start from, because that’s what the law says,” McKay said. “From there, you are looking at an analysis of if you’re going to hold somebody, then you have to be able to hold them saying they are going to fail to come to court or they are at risk of committing a violent offense. Or, they’re at risk of interfering with witnesses, tampering with witnesses or interfering with the administration of justice that we do.”