Seattle Jail Population Shrinking


A shrinking number of inmates in the Seattle’s King County Jail is bucking prior forecasts and raising new questions about whether Seattle and its suburbs will need to build their own jail in 2013, reports Seattle Seattle and its neighbors to the north and east have been studying where to build a 640-bed, $110 million jail based on King County’s warnings last year that it would no longer have room for misdemeanor offenders in three years. Instead of growing, the county jail’s daily population is decreasing, by almost 6 percent during the last eight months.

The proposal to build a new jail has plenty of opponents, from residents who don’t want it in their backyard to officials who question whether it’s necessary. Seattle City Council member Nick Licata is optimistic that the current trend could be maintained through further use of alternatives to incarceration. The recent population decline is mostly due to fewer bookings from Seattle police, who are bringing in fewer offenders during latenight shifts, said Kathy Van Olst of the county’s Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.

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