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Justice System Committee

Our Mission

We strive to change how people in Whatcom County experience the justice system on a daily basis. This requires increasing transparency, educating ourselves and others, and holding our community accountable for the safety of all.

We prioritize actions that create a more equitable justice system for Black, Indigenous, people of color, and people who are marginalized. We advocate for reducing harm for anyone that interacts with the criminal justice system. 

We believe everyone in our community is entitled to feel safe.

Our Work

Follow our published work by reading our calls to action and informational posts. Since our inception in 2022, we have:

  • Advocated for:
    • creating publicly-accessible data dashboards that represent the whole of our local justice system.
    • legislative bills that increase accountability and reduce armed law enforcement interactions.
    • selecting a police chief, sheriff, and judge that will advance a more progressive agenda.
    • improvements to police union contracts.
    • critiqued the internal investigations of Bellingham and Ferndale police departments.
  • Met with police chiefs, a judge, state legislators, Chief of Corrections, and a County Council member to ask questions and share our priorities.
  • Closely followed Whatcom County’s Justice Project, including work conducted by the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force and Stakeholder Advisory Committee.

Contact Us

Email the Justice System Committee at We’re interested to learn about your interests and always looking for new members committed to improving Whatcom County’s justice system.

Information and Advocacy

Whatcom County

  • Incarceration Prevention Reduction Task Force – established in 2015 to review Whatcom County’s criminal justice and behavioral health programs and make recommendations to reduce incarceration of individuals struggling with mental illness and chemical dependency, and minimize jail use by pretrial defendants who can safely be released. It serves as the required Law and Justice Council.
  • Vera Institute of Justice Report to Whatcom County Stakeholders on Jail Reduction Strategies – Vera was hired by Whatcom County in 2017 to develop a more thorough understanding of the factors driving the growing number of people in jail and to identify opportunities for reduction. This report offers responsive strategies to reduce the number of people in jail without compromising public safety.
  • Stakeholder Advisory Committee – established in 2019 to guide the development of the Justice Project (public health, safety and justice facility needs assessment). The SAC completed its work in 2023 after developing recommendations in a Needs Assessment.
  • Needs Assessment Implementation Plan – prepared in 2023, it identifies 15 projects for making changes in justice-related systems, services, and facilities, including steps to take in the first 1-3 years.
  • WSU’s Progress Report Towards Reducing the Jail Population – in 2023, independently analyzed data on the local legal system and assessed progress in implementing the 2017 recommendations from the Vera Institute of Justice.
  • Public Health, Safety, and Justice Sales and Use Tax – approved in 2023 by ~63% of Whatcom County voters. 

Washington State

  • WA Coalition for Police Accountability – advocates for the adoption and implementation of statewide policies to reduce police violence and increase police accountability.
  • ACLU of Washington – works to ensure justice, freedom and equality are realities for all people in Washington state, with particular attention to the rights of people and groups who have historically been disenfranchised.
  • Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System – In 2022, examined race and the criminal justice system in the state of Washington developed a comprehensive set of 140 recommendations aimed at reducing or eliminating the disproportionate impact of the legal system on people of color.


  • Center for Policing Equity (CPE) – protects, empowers, and supports vulnerable communities—particularly Black and Brown communities—to redesign their public safety systems. CPE provides decision-makers with data, stories, and relationships to facilitate change that’s bold, innovative, and lasting.
  • ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project – seeks to end harsh policies and racial inequities in the criminal justice system.
  • Marshall Project – a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system.

Riveters Platform

To learn about the Riveters’ positions on this topic, we recommend reading the Justice System section of the current Riveters platform.