After 28 years in service, the Spokane County Jail has seen finer days. With clogged drains and standing water in the basement kitchen, and iffy elevators among other failing utilities. The structural unreliability of the facility isn’t the only pressing issue the county jail is facing. Opened in 1986, the 11-story jail was originally outfitted with 463 single-bunk cells. Last month alone, SCJ held more than 900 prisoners.
Because the jail simple does not have the capacity to detain and hold as many repeat offenders as is needed, they are being released back into the community. And, according an article in The Spokesman-Review, “Spokane County Jail is overcrowded and falling apart,” “From 2008 through 2012, Spokane County saw a 55 percent increase in property crime. There were 27,301 property crimes reported in the county in 2012. In the city of Spokane, the property crime rate was three times the national average that year.”
So, why hasn’t a new jail or jail renovations been started? The county commissioners simply don’t have the necessary funds to undertake such a project. There are a few factors that are playing into this lack of action that include a less than favorable voter pool for tax increases as well as a wait game for up-to-date results regarding criminal justice reforms. New reforms could dictate the manner in which county commissioners move forward, whether it’s with an increased number of beds or a multi-tiered reform approach that will aim to reduce recidivism “day-reporting, re-entry classes and work programs.”
With the number of inmates ever increasing, and with a denser population of hard-core offenders, it is clear that further steps need to be taken.
To read more on the overcrowding issues being faced at the Spokane County Jail, check out The Spokesman-Review article, “Spokane County Jail is overcrowded and falling apart.”