We’re not yet publishing every back-and-forth in every key race – our in-the-works Election page will be your HQ for that, if you’re interested – but since this is a major issue for West Seattle, here’s the statement just issued by King County Council Chair Dow Constantine‘s County Executive campaign regarding the latest developments in the continuing process of a potential new Seattle-and-other-cities misdemeanor-offenders jail (with a West Seattle site remaining under consideration) – he says if he’s elected KCE, there won’t be a need for a new city jail – read on:
After interim King County Executive Kurt Triplett announced late last week that the County will offer a short-term extension of its jail contract with the cities, King County Executive candidate Dow Constantine, who chairs the King County Council, issued the following statement today regarding the need for a new jail:
“Executive Triplett’s offer to work with the cities of King County on an extension of our jail services contract is a good first step, but we need to go much further. My fellow councilmembers and I called on the Executive to extend the contract last summer, as it was apparent even then that our jail population would continue to remain well below historic projections. But given the present situation, a short-term extension is a bureaucratic Band Aid when what we really need now is an entirely new diagnosis of the problem.
“As Executive, I will work with the cities on a long-term extension to our current jail services contract. It is not reasonable to ask the cities to participate in a regional conversation if we are unable to provide them with this stability. Second, I will call on local stakeholders to join me in expanding our community corrections capacity, to more efficiently and effectively provide for public safety.
“We absolutely must explore every alternative to spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on new jail cells, especially in a time when the state is laying off 3,000 teachers and kicking 40,000 people off basic health. We also need to work together as a region to provide services effectively and efficiently. It makes no sense to have groups of cities provide some jail services, while the county provides others. As I called for in my statement to the City of Seattle in April, King County needs to step up as a leader and work with all stakeholders to provide integrated criminal justice services to the entire region.
“King County currently provides a range of alternative corrections services that keep communities safe and reserve jail space for violent or otherwise dangerous inmates. These smart alternatives include Drug Court , Mental Health Court , and our work release and work crew programs. Expanding these programs improves safety, reduces the need for new jail space, cuts recidivism and saves the taxpayers millions of dollars compared to the cost of operating a new jail.
“Let me be clear about this: Building a $200 million worth of jail cells that we may not need for decades makes no sense, and will not happen if you elect me King County Executive.”
If any of Constantine’s opponents in the KCE race issue statements on this, we will publish those too.