Vote on whether to build a jail? Opponents file “Initiative 100”

This apparently happened late last week but we can’t find any evidence of major coverage – just got a news release about it now. Opponents of the plan to build a new regional misdemeanor jail (with Seattle and several other King County cities partnering; they’re considering six sites including one in West Seattle) have filed Initiative 100, asking, among other things, for a public vote on whether to build a jail. (It’s also on tap for a forum tomorrow night, 6:30, Pigott Hall at Seattle University.) Here’s the initiative petition that will be circulated (note: updated that link late Tuesday to point to the copy finalized today). ADDED 4:46 PM: Just got a county news release about a County Council briefing today regarding the first drop in county jail population in five years – read on:

King County’s commitment to providing alternatives to incarceration as a way to contain criminal justice costs contributed to a 5.7 percent reduction in the number of inmates held in secure detention by King County last year – the first actual decline in average daily population since 2003.

“After only a few years, our policy direction to focus on recovery rather than incarceration is starting to pay off in a very tangible way,” said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who chairs the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “Society benefits in many ways, from lower costs to lower crime rates, when alternatives to incarceration such as treatment for substance abuse and mental illness keep people from becoming involved in the criminal justice system. We are helping to break the cycle in and out of jail.”

New numbers reported by the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention were presented today to the Metropolitan King County Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. The numbers show that the average daily jail population (ADP) for the King County Jail and the Maleng Regional Justice Center, while held in check and below forecasts in recent years, actually fell from 2007 to 2008.

According to the department’s Detention and Alternatives Report:

· The average ADP for secure detention was 2,324 in 2008, down from 2,465 in 2007 for an actual decline of 5.7 percent. That number is also 10 percent below the ADP of 2,584 that had been forecast for this year.

· Total jail bookings were down by about 10 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, led by a decrease in bookings by the Seattle Police Department, and also below the annual forecast target.

· Juvenile ADP dropped from 95 to 90, below the forecast target ADP of 110.

To provide some context, the county in 1999 believed it would have over 3,600 inmates in secure detention, before the implementation of alternatives to incarceration.

King County saw an increase in the number of clients using alternatives to incarceration. Programs such as Drug and Mental Health Courts and the County’s relicensing program provide opportunities for offenders to receive assistance outside of the County Jail. The Community Center for Alternative Programs (CCAP) saw its average daily enrollment increase by 10 clients in 2008, while 23 more entered work crew programs.

CCAP is part of the Adult and Juvenile Justice Operational Master Plans (AJOMP and JJOMP), policy frameworks that call for emphasizing alternatives to incarceration, including treatment for individuals suffering from addiction or mental illness.

These totals show that the ‘paradigm shift’ that we began at the start of this century have had a real impact on lives,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, who took the lead for the Council in the creation of the AJOMP and JJOMP. “For many, it was the first time that people were given the assistance to deal with their addiction or mental illness and to begin their journey towards recovery. These numbers show that we must continue these programs even despite our budget problems if we are to have true public safety in King County.”

7 Replies to "Vote on whether to build a jail? Opponents file "Initiative 100""

  • Scott January 27, 2009 (4:17 pm)

    No one wants a jail but everyone wants criminals locked up….

  • Dorsol January 27, 2009 (4:46 pm)


    The question that is being presented isn’t does anyone want the jail or not, but whether or not we actually need a new jail to be built? Is building a facility here in Seattle our best option or are there alternatives or different locations that could be best served? In the end the surest way to allow for those questions to be addressed; not just to the Mayor and the City Council, is to place the issue before the general public. If we truly, 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt need this jail than they should be able to answer the questions above. That is what the initiative is calling for, and I don’t see anything wrong with the voters getting a say.

  • Scott January 27, 2009 (5:47 pm)

    I don’t know why people would think we don’t need a jail. Almost every city jail in King County is full and have people sleeping on the floor. This results in people being released prematurely or booked and released. Does anyone else remember when downtown king county had to release 83 people and it made the front page. Conditions haven’t changed for the better.

  • CB January 27, 2009 (6:12 pm)

    First the NIMBYs don’t want a new tunnel to replace 99… now the NIMBYs don’t want a new jail. Let’s tear down I-5, and close down the police department too while we are at it too.

    What’s next…. are the going to ban running water?

  • Michael January 27, 2009 (7:59 pm)

    Let’s just do away with the government altogether and just have a public vote for everything, if we’re going to vote to elect people then try and override every large decision they make.

  • Crime Free Nulu January 27, 2009 (9:27 pm)

    Here, here.
    Remember, West Seattle has no criminals.
    Let’s draft Initiative #666, the Petition to End Crime.
    A ballot pass and we could once and for all be free of crime.
    Visualize no more criminals. It worked with PEACE.

  • DM January 28, 2009 (6:20 pm)

    I swear, you guys crack me up.
    You urban rednecks only know how to complain and never bring anything tangible to the table.

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