Why the NEC Needs Municipal Jail Facilities
- Cities are responsible for jailing people convicted of misdemeanor offenses.
- People are most often booked in municipal jails on misdemeanor charges related to property (e.g., theft), driving under the influence (DUI), traffic related charges, misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor domestic violence.
- Continuing to contract for jail beds is not a long-term solution.
- Police officers need a local place to book people into jail so officers can get back on the streets quickly.
- Driving five hours (round-trip to Yakima) every time an officer needs to book someone in jail or transport someone to court is inefficient and takes officers off the streets for too long.
- Although there are municipal jails in Kirkland and Issaquah, they have a combined capacity of only 76 beds – which is not enough to meet the North/East cities’ projected need of 640 beds.
- Many cities located in King County have a contract with King County that allows them to house their misdemeanants in the County's jail.
- The County is responsible for housing felons and those arrested for misdemeanors in unincorporated areas.
- Because of space constraints in existing County facilities in downtown Seattle and Kent, King County will no longer have room to house city misdemeanor inmates when the current contract ends.
- A King County jail population study found that by 2015, King County won’t have enough jail beds to house its own felony jail population.
- Cities are considering building a municipal jail because they will lose all of their misdemeanor jail beds when their contract with King County ends in roughly four years.
- This means that the NEC group has roughly four years to site and build a new municipal jail. They must begin this process now, as siting and building a jail normally takes at least six years. They realize this is a challenging schedule, which is why they must identify a site in 2010.
- To ease the schedule pressure a bit, cities are working with King County to see if they can negotiate a one-year extension to the current contract.
- Regardless of whether an extension is granted, the County has made one thing clear: it cannot continue to house city misdemeanants at its existing facilities and cities should be planning a replacement facility.
- Although no one wants to build a jail, one thing is certain; a jail must be built somewhere.