For the first time in decades, county has surplus jail beds

September 17, 2013

By Staff

The average daily jail population of 1,765 in the King County Jail is well below history averages, according to the Aug. 14 edition of The Prosecutor’s Post, a regular email newsletter from King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

The year 2000 showed a population of 2,943 inmates on any given day.

The numbers owe their drop to factors including the construction of the South Correctional Entity facility by a group of South County cities and a decline in the number of people held in custody while awaiting trial.

In the past decade, criminal justice leaders in King County have built more alternatives to secure detention, so they can monitor people awaiting trial in the community instead of in jail. That correlates with a gradual decline in the crime rate during that time, which relieves some pressure on the county jail.

Nearly 70 percent of the people held in jail are awaiting trial for serious felony crimes, such as aggravated assaults, robbery and property offenses. The facility is holding 71 individuals on murder charges. One out of 10 county jail inmates are awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges. About 11 percent of inmates are serving sentences for felony and misdemeanor convictions State probation violations account for about 7 percent.

The overall average length of stay in the jail is a little less than three weeks, which reflects the high volume of short stay bookings. For those awaiting felony trials, the wait is much longer: 70 days for assault, 86 days for robbery, 175 days for sex offenses and 340 days for homicide.

In addition to the drop for the adult jail population, there is a similar decrease in the average population held in Juvenile Detention. This year, King County is averaging 56 juveniles in custody per day, as compared to 148 in the year 2000.

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