Funding for new jail not on November ballot - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Funding for new jail not on November ballot

SPOKANE, Wash. - The November elections are drawing near and as of now, an initiative to fund the new Spokane County Jail facility will not be on the ballot.

As of Friday afternoon the jail which has an official capacity of 650, houses 587 inmates. Subsequently, crowding has been forcing deputies to frequently use a catch-and-release policy.

This is making some people uneasy.

"They're letting sometimes violent criminals go, and guys who need to be behind bars. So we have to have a place to put those guys," said Spokane resident Dave Wagner.

Jail Commander Captain Jerry Brady says the situation is not ideal, but the catch-and-release policy is the best that can be done at the moment.

"Catch-and-release is great for fish but bad for prisoners, people that have warrants. Whether it's driving while license suspended, people should be booked into the jail and held until they can answer to a court," said Brady.

Brady says a new jail and room for an extra thousand or so prisoners will solve the problem, but right now his main concern is the Geiger Correctional Center. The lease on that building ends in 2013 and Brady worries about where the 500 inmates housed there will end up.

"Do they go into the public? Do they look at housing them out of state, which is extremely expensive so what exactly do you do?" asked Brady.

Right now jail officials are trying to find a solution.

The Spokane County Sheriff has decided to hold off on putting the initiative to fund a new jail on the ballot this year. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich hopes to educate voters about the need for a new jail and get the initiative passed next year.

Jail officials are also working on plans to build a community correctional center to go along with the jail. The facility would be used to rehabilitate inmates to not offend again.

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