It Takes a Village: A Story from Spokane

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A key part of supporting people after their bail is posted is identifying the best way to keep them notified about their future court dates. Research (and our own experiences) shows that effective text reminders are usually enough, but what do you do when a person is homeless and doesn’t have a phone?

You get creative.

This past winter, Sabrina, a bail disruptor with our Spokane team, met Annabelle*, a young woman who had spent two weeks incarcerated pretrial because she couldn’t afford bail.

Annabelle shared with Sabrina that she had been homeless for the past three years and did not have a cellphone at the moment. What she had, though, was a small community of friends, including a local grocer near the spot where she would camp.

So Sabrina got to work. She contacted the grocer and he agreed to be a contact for Annabelle during her case and let her borrow a phone if needed. Sabrina also connected Annabelle with Consistent Care, one of our partner organizations in Spokane, which provided her with a phone, drug treatment, and transitional housing within two days of her release. Thanks to this support, Annabelle found a safe place to stay and is now in a position to work with her public defender and fight her case from a place of freedom.

Sabrina says that a strong network of partner organizations in Spokane has made our work possible in her city, where the majority of our clients face chronic homelessness and drug addiction.

In fact, every two weeks, a group called Hot Spotters – comprised of different organizations from public defenders, to mental health providers, to EMTs – meet to figure out how to best pool their resources.

“It’s really beautiful to see that many agencies come together to help people with wraparound services,” Sabrina said.

We couldn’t agree more. Partnerships are the foundation of our model of community release with support our vision of a pretrial justice system that preserves the presumption of innocence and responds to people’s needs with respect and dignity. It’s an honor to be working toward this vision alongside so many dedicated advocates in Spokane.

To learn more about our work in Spokane, listen to Sabrina’s interview on Spokane Public Radio.

*Annabelle is a pseudonym used to protect our client’s privacy.