King County Jail Has Extra Beds

Sep 2, 2013

It’s a place with plenty of vacancies. And the price might be right—about $130 a night.

But you probably don’t want to book a room.

I’m talking about the King County Jail where there are now a lot more beds than inmates.

King County’s surplus jail space is part of a national trend. Not only have crime rates declined, but states and municipalities have looked for other ways to deal with those who commit crimes. 

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says the county has come up with a variety of alternative programs.

“So that people who are not otherwise a good risk to be let out on their own promise to come back can nevertheless be supervised in the community through a GPS monitor that they might wear on an ankle bracelet, or through a day reporting center where they’re required to show up every day,” he said.

The reduction in number of inmates in King County is dramatic.  The jail population now averages about 1,700 a day, down from nearly 3,000 in 2000.

And the same is true for juveniles.

Back in 2000, there were about 150 juveniles in detention on any given day. Now the number is 56 a day.

According to Satterberg, 70 percent of people in adult detention are awaiting trial for serious felony crimes, with aggravated assaults, robbery, and property offenses accounting for half.

So what will the county do with the extra beds? One option is to rent out space to the state prison system.Contrary to other trends, the state seems to be on the lookout for more inmate facilities.