Yakima city officials will travel to Spokane next month to talk to officials there about Spokane's Community Court, a new approach to the revolving door of jail.

Yakima City Attorney Cynthia Martinez says a community court started in Spokane late last year and it has already cut down the number of repeat offenders by 66 percent. Chronic reoffenders are taking their first steps toward changing their lives. They are performing community service around the downtown area, part of the overall strategy of starting to build connection and community.

Van Wormer, a criminology professor at Washington State University, will be measuring the court’s effectiveness. She plans to compare the outcomes of defendants in community court who have long records in the traditional court system.

Spokane is not the first community to try this approach. Community courts are showing some success in many other communities across the country.

Yakima city officials plan to visit Spokane on Jan. 26.