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Jail News: $12 Million Budget Shortfall Bad News for South King County

As we’ve previously reported, South King County law enforcement officers and residents are not happy that all suspects arrested in South King County after 5pm must be transported all the way to the King County Jail in downtown Seattle because 24 hour booking is not budgeted at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington. Currently, anyone booked in South King County between the hours of 5pm and 8am must be taken to Seattle, a trip that not only keeps South King County police officers out of their cities’ streets during the hours they’re most needed but also makes traveling to court or jail difficult for family members or lawyers.

On May 31st, KOMO News broke the story that King County Jail is currently facing a $12.4 budget reduction over the next two years, and there is talk now of closing the Kent Regional Justice Center to booking entirely. KOMO reports:

“Jail leaders are talking about closing down the inmate booking desk at the Regional Justice Center, in Kent. The move could potentially save millions by having one central booking hub - located at the downtown Seattle jail, said King County Jail Cmdr. William Hayes.”

Hayes has said that though the closure of the Regional Justice Center has always been a last-ditch option, it’s starting to look like the only option left in the face of this budget crisis.

It’s interesting to compare this story with the June 13th feature story from the Seattle Weekly in which they call the proposed $160 million price tag for the new North Precinct building “unprecedented.” The last time a precinct was constructed was in 1999, and then even its $27 million price was considered steep by publications like the Seattle Times, who described the proposed building as having “amentias never dreamed of.” For the new North Precinct, $27 million will just about cover the parking garage, and there is much debate in the City Council and the press as to whether these costs are too high.

Of course, the line between city money and county money is difficult to cross, but it’s an interesting time to be working in the jail industries in Seattle, King County, and Washington State. However these budgets shake out, we’re proud to be Washington’s number-one choice for bail bonds across eight locations, including our offices in both Seattle and Kent.