Temporary jail closure requires coordination and cooperation

March 2, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Corrections Officer Michael Zuppe takes care of release paperwork for an inmate next to a control board in the booking area of the Issaquah jail. By Greg Farrar

Corrections Officer Michael Zuppe takes care of release paperwork for an inmate next to a control board in the booking area of the Issaquah jail. By Greg Farrar

When crews begin tearing up carpet for renovations at the Issaquah City Jail over the weekend, law enforcement agencies from here to Carnation will need to find other facilities to house their inmates. 

The jail is slated to shut down March 8 for three days while new carpet is installed, and law enforcement officers across the region are adjusting their schedules and taking measures to accommodate the closing. The effects will be felt beyond Issaquah, because 20 other agencies contract with the city to use the jail and its 62 beds.

Until the jail reopens March 11, some of the inmates currently being held there will be sent to other corrections facilities in the region. Other inmates could receive temporary furloughs. Issaquah houses only misdemeanor offenders; about 30 were being held last week.Deputy Police Chief Steve Cozart said officials at the contract agencies would make their own decisions about where to send inmates during the shutdown.

While the jail is closed, police officers in Bellevue, Kirkland, Sammamish and other cities will send their misdemeanor offenders elsewhere. Many of the criminals will be sent to the King County and Yakima County jails, officials said. 

Other agencies might not feel any impact from the closure: Many police departments only use the Issaquah jail when they need to supplement their own holding facilities.

“A lot of our contracts are with cities with a small jail population,” Cozart said.

To prepare for the shutdown, the jail will stop taking new lawbreakers at 10 p.m. Thursday. During the renovation, criminals will still be booked, fingerprinted and photographed at the police department by Issaquah officers. Depending on the severity of the crime, some lawbreakers will be given a citation and released after the booking steps. Cozart said officers typically conduct book-and-release for misdemeanor offenders.

More serious offenders will be booked in Issaquah and then taken to the Kirkland jail for the duration of the Issaquah closure.

Jail officials sent a letter to court officials and contract agencies in October, alerting them to the upcoming closure.

“I would not anticipate it putting us out of business, but we’ll be happy when they’re open again,” said Officer Greg Grannis, Bellevue Police Department spokesman. 

His agency also contracts with the King and Yakima corrections facilities. 

But “Issaquah is our first choice, primarily because of the cost,” he added.

The arrangement enables Issaquah to raise money by offering beds to nearby cities, turning the jail into a reliable source of income. Jail services and fees, which include contracts to house inmates, are projected to bring in $956,500 this year, according to city figures.

Cozart said the shutdown would cost about $2,800 per day in contract revenue. The city received a bid of $31,828 to complete the renovations; the amount does not include the revenue that will be lost during the closure. Flooring Solutions LLC, of Woodinville, was awarded the contract. The jail is tentatively scheduled to reopen at noon March 11.

“As soon as the contractor finishes, we want to reopen the jail as soon as possible,” city Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Ric Patterson said.

Crews will work around the clock to complete the project in three days. Initially, officials thought the jail could be closed a week or more for the renovations, Cozart said. During the shutdown, aging and stained carpet will be removed from several areas in the 10-year-old jail. Carpeting will be replaced in the stairwell leading to the jail, as well as inside the lobby and the visitation center. In other, more secure areas, polished concrete will replace carpeting.

During a walkthrough of the facility last week, Cozart pointed out damage and stains to the carpet, which has not been replaced since the building opened. Discolorations abound, some caused by simple wear and water damage, others by a bleach solution used to clean up blood and other stains.

With polished concrete, stains will be easier to manage. 

“You just mop it and it’s done,” Cozart said.

Police Support Officer Larry Warren, of the Snoqualmie Police Department, said he doubted the closure would affect his agency. Warren said his agency prefers the Issaquah jail because of its proximity: “The amount of time going to Seattle is a little more labor intensive.”

Jim Bove, spokesman for the Redmond Police Department, said it would be difficult to predict how many lawbreakers his agency would arrest during the Issaquah shutdown. But he said the effects of the closure should be minimal.

“We don’t foresee it being an issue or slowing down business,” he said.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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