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Judges threaten to abandon pre-trial release program if changes aren't made

Judges threaten to abandon pre-trial release program if changes aren't made.

YAKIMA, Wash.- We're only days away from the three-year anniversary since the pre-trial release program started here in Yakima county.

But prosecuting attorney Joseph Brusic said he's not sure how much good it's done over that time.

“Yakima county has spent over a million dollars on taxpayer money on this particular program and I cannot say we are safer now then we were before the program,” he said.

District court judges took it a step further and said they're ready to abandon the program all together.

In a letter to the superior court that KIMA obtained, Judge Kevin Roy said, "We feel we were lied to, completely ignored or at least, seriously mislead."

Roy references stats compiled by pre-trial release. Like ethnicity of the suspect or how often the judge uses the program to grade a judge's performance.

But said that wasn't part of the agreement they had when it was introduced.

“Statistics were being calculated that the district court judges didn't know were being utilized,” Brusic said.

Roy goes on to criticize the process even further when it comes to keeping track of people who have been released before their court date.

He said, "Let's be honest there is no 'supervision.' Let’s take our stat-keeping money and try to supervise. Public safety demands it."

Even with the heavy criticism, Brusic said the district court judges are still using the program, for now.

“The tool is still being used as we speak but the district court judges have made it clear that if things don't change, they will discontinue the use of the pretrial program,” he said.

To help ease the situation, Brusic said they need to re-evaluate the process and see where they can improve the system as a team.

Because if not, we may have some judges rebelling against the county.

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