The mother-daughter duo of Mary Lou Johnson and Julie Schaffer work to deliver the message about how new approaches to non-violent offenders can reduce crime and save tax dollars.
With the Spokane Smart Justice Symposium ten days away, Center for Justice attorney Julie Schaffer and her fellow lawyer (and mother) Mary Lou Johnson talk to Tim Connor about what Smart Justice is all about, and what’s in it for our communities and Spokane taxpayers.
Julie is now starting her third year as a Center for Justice staff attorney, where she works on a variety of issues including Smart Justice, civil rights, and police accountability.
Mary Lou is a former nurse-practitioner turned lawyer who ended her career on a high-note. After serving as a federal court clerk for two decades, she spent the last five years of her career working with a new drug court attached to the Federal District Court in Spokane. The experience inspired her in several ways and, in reality, she hasn’t stopped. As a volunteer lawyer at the Center, she is now working with her daughter and other partners in the Spokane Smart Justice coalition to pursue her interest in innovative sentencing and treatment, especially for non-violent offenders.
As we reported last month, the Center for Justice has joined with 23 other local organizations and community leaders to launch “Smart Justice Spokane”. The primary purpose of the coalition is to work for alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent offenders, so that they can receive the treatment, counseling and consequences they need to avoid re-offending and resolve the problems/circumstances that led them to be arrested in the first place.
The short audio interview included in this post touches on a variety of subjects, including a description of what Smart Justice is, why it can benefit taxpayers as well as individuals and families, and the importance of stakeholder involvement in the re-design of the Spokane County criminal justice system. For those interested in digging more deeply, I’m including Julie’s useful summary of the so-called “Bennett Report,” prepared for Spokane County in 2007, that identified several of the problems that put pressure on jail-capacity in Spokane.