People arrested for misdemeanors by Lake Forest Park police will be sent to the Snohomish County Jail in Everett under a new contract that runs through 2016.
The LFP City Council approved the contract unanimously at its Feb. 24th meeting and it takes effect immediately after Mayor Dave Hutchinson signs it.
The city sends prisoners to King County Jail, Yakima and Chelan County right now but will discontinue its contract with Yakima, which all-39 King County cities signed on with when it built a new jail several years ago. LFP’s contract with Chelan will continue.
“Those two things (the Snohomish County and Chelan County contracts) will put us in good position for long term for housing inmates,” LFP Police Chief Dennis Peterson said.
The city paid Yakima under the previous contract no matter how much it used the jail. Now, with Snohomish County, “we pay as we go,” Peterson said.
The booking fee in King County is $380 per inmate and the daily housing fee is $119. Snohomish County will book an inmate for $90 and house an inmate for $62.50 a day up to a year. Chelan charges only $70 and no booking fee but is further away.
“We are housing in King County now which is very, very expensive for us,” Peterson said. “We certainly can reduce our costs. I’m trying to line up enough for us long term so we don’t have to worry about it in the near future.”
The limit is 10 inmates a day, but LFP averages only three misdemeanor arrests per day, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem, Peterson said.
Because of increasing need to house felons, King County was not going house individuals arrested for misdemeanors starting in 2012. For the North End and Eastside, jail sites including downtown Seattle and one in Shoreline were proposed generating controversy, especially with neighbors in Shoreline’s Ballinger neighborhood. The process ended last May when King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed providing cities with 150 beds until 2020. The rest of the inmates will go where the cities have contracts like the one LFP has now with Snohomish County and Chelan.
South King County cities including Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila decided to build their own misdemeanant jail, SCORE that will open in Des Moines in September.
Peterson noted the difference in philosophy between King County and Snohomish County. In King County the jail is not affiliated with the Sheriff’s Office, while in Snohomish County the jail is part of the Sheriff’s Office.
Snohomish County also can do video arraignments. That means transporting the inmate is only necessary for hearings and trials. The defense attorney and inmate stay in Everett while the judges, such as LFP municipal court judge Linda Portnoy, can hear the case in their courtroom.
Snohomish County also provides electronic home monitoring that’s “much better” than what the private company doing it now can provide, Peterson said.
“I have all of the confidence of safety,” Peterson said of the Snohomish County jail when asked by a councilmember. “King County is good for us as well but it’s an older facility and needs maintenance and we’re paying for that. It’s a better economic position. We will continue to use King County if someone drops them off because of warrants.”