Contract extension prevents need for new municipal jail, saves taxpayer resources
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Seattle today that secures a long-term commitment for the use of the King County jail for the city’s misdemeanant jail population. Sponsored by Councilmembers Bob Ferguson and Larry Gossett, the new contract extends through 2030 and prevents the need to build a new Seattle municipal jail facility.
“This agreement is a win-win for both the County and the City. It not only helps us make the most of our existing resources, but also prevents the need to move forward with a new jail,” said Ferguson, Chair of the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “I appreciate Executive Constantine’s strong leadership on this issue.”
“This is an agreement that maximizes County resources,” said Council Chair Gossett. “It’s also an agreement that reminds everyone that the strength of a justice system is the access that defendants have to resources. This keeps those incarcerated in the County jail close to public defenders and other legal services located near the facility.”
Approval of the new contract is the culmination of ongoing efforts to find a cooperative approach to meet the region’s jail space needs. In April, Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor McGinn were joined by leaders from both King County and city of Seattle to pledge support for a preliminary agreement that would keep King County as the primary provider of bed space for Seattle’s misdemeanor inmates for the long term. Today’s action approves the final contract.
“Partnerships like this one with the city of Seattle made a real impact on the efficiencies we were able to create in the 2012 budget I presented today,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Seattle's long-term commitment for bed space in our downtown jail means we can make more cost-effective use of existing jail capacity, saving money for the taxpayers of Seattle and King County.”
Under the new contract, the city of Seattle agrees pay for a minimum number of jail beds, starting at 175 beds in 2012 and increasing overtime to reach 258 beds by 2030. This provision provides King County with revenue stability for the next two decades while ensuring that Seattle has sufficient jail space to meet its future needs. The predictable use of jail capacity under the new agreement also enables King County to achieve operational savings through economies of scale which can be passed on to the City through lower rates.
Additionally, by maintaining the close proximity between Seattle’s Municipal Justice Center and the King County Correction Facility, the new contract allows the city of Seattle to maintain significant operational advantages for its courts, law enforcement, and attorneys. The agreement also strengthens collaboration between the County and City on diversion, alternative, and re-entry programs.