Spokane County Jail Staff Will Lose 57 Officers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane County Jail Staff Will Lose 57 Officers

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane County Sheriff and jail staff met with County Commissioners Tuesday and informed them that as many as 57 county corrections officers will be laid off due to budget shortfalls.  

Official Press Release:

Reacting to first quarter figures that show a consistent drop in the number of inmates housed in the Spokane County Jail and Geiger Corrections Center, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich Tuesday announced the pending layoff of 57 employees.

Two of the lost positions are currently vacant and will remain unfilled.  The sheriff and his staff were trying Tuesday afternoon to notify all of the 57 employees who face being laid off June 16th.

The 2010 Detention Services budget was based on a predicted average daily population (ADP) at both facilities of 920 inmates.  For unknown reasons, the ADP has dropped to 750 and appears to be remaining there, as opposed to a short term spike downward.

The lower ADP puts the Detention Services budget into an $8 million deficit by end of year.  Reducing staff will save the detention services $2 million. Reductions in expenditures and capitol items saves another $3 million, leaving only a shortfall of $3 million

Detention services will actually end the year $2 million under the initial predicted budget, negating most of that $3 million.

 "Despite cutting our overtime by half in 2008, and by half again in 2009, we find ourselves in this harsh budget predicament," Knezovich said Tuesday.  "Also, we are $1.2 million to the good on our 2010 expenditures."

"Arrests are up this year by about one percent, so anecdotally, it appears we may have become a victim of our own success."

Kenzovich's comment reflected on several job, drug and alcohol programs that were designed to reduce recidivism at the jail.  The programs were viewed as successful and may have eliminated some repeat visits by law breakers to the jail. 

However, those programs died because of budget shortfalls late last year, and may have made judges hesitant to sentence first-time offenders to simply sit out their sentence in the jail. 

Another potential reason for the ADP drop is the new Spokane Municipal Court which, as a cost-cutting measure, may not be sentencing offenders to jail as the district courts had done in the past.

Another potential contributor to the lower ADP is that the prosecutor's office is not filing formal charges against as many suspects as in years past.  The average jail stay is about three days shorter than in the past.

The lost positions include 30 Geiger Corrections Deputies, 14 Jail Corrections Deputies, 1 Contract Registered Nurse Manager, 2 Registered Nurses, and 1 each Trades Supervisor, Maintenance Worker, Sheriff's Technical Assistance, Mail/Property Clerk and Inventory Officer.  Six Cooks' positions also were cut.

"Our costs for staff and facilities are fixed costs, it's our APD that fluctuates and has to be predicted," Knezovich added.  "We don't know why the numbers have dropped, but we have to cope the best we can."

He added that the rapidly changing criminal justice climate in Eastern Washington is cause for a re-evaluation of how law enforcement, the courts and detention facilities interact and conduct business.

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