The Jail: Costs, Benefits

An article in today’s Kitsap Sun discusses the Kitsap County jail’s “intake standards,” or the guidelines the approximately 102-person staff uses to determine whether or not to hold an offender on bail prior to their first court date.

Currently, all felony charges, as well as domestic violence and driving under the influence (DUI) misdemeanors are “held” before court by the jail. But a dip in the jail’s 406 bed capacity has allowed adding any misdemeanor crimes against people — mainly what are known as “simple” assaults — are now being held as well.

The change, made March 22, pleased many area law enforcement officials, but some, like Port Orchard Chief of Police Al Townsend, don’t believe it goes far enough in holding offenders.

But it is no secret that there’s a high cost of housing inmates — $56 a day in Kitsap County. And so it becomes a balancing act, says Ned Newlin, chief of corrections at the jail.

There is potential for a jail expansion, and with it, a permanent widening of the jail’s intake standards. Currently, 116 beds sit empty due to a lack of funding for corrections officers to staff it.

The cost to open the additional jail pods? Around $2 million, points out Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen.

The pods will open eventually, says Endresen, but it will take either A) outside revenue from other counties who want to house inmates at the jail or B) enough Kitsap County growth to warrant it.

So the question is: How far down the road are one of the two options utilized?

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