King County approves $3.5M agreement to move 50 inmates to Des Moines, WA | Washington

(The Center Square) – The King County passed an agreement with the South Correctional Entity in Des Moines, WA to move 50 inmates to the location amid a staff shortage.

The King County adult secure detention facilities are currently has capacity issues primarily due to a “large number of corrections officer vacancies and an increase in average daily population,” according to the King County staff report. The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention currently has over 120 vacancies in budgeted corrections officer positions.

The county’s adopted 2023-2024 budget included $3.5 million for contracted services to help mitigate jail capacity issues. Under the newly approved agreement with the South Correctional Entity, 50 inmates will be moved to the facility for an estimated biennial cost of $3.5 million. That is $70,000 for an individual inmate.

The South Correctional Entity is owned by six South King County cities: the cities of Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila. The agreement for jail services includes booking, housing and transporting people incarcerated under King County’s jurisdiction.

The adult average daily population was approximately 1,300 in April 2020 and remained at that level into 2021. The county’s 2021-2022 adopted budget budgeted for an average daily population of 1,300 with the goal of maintaining the higher diversion rates achieved during the pandemic. However, in 2022, the adult average daily population increased to approximately 1,600, according to the county.

The agreement passed by a seven-to-two vote. King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay did not vote, saying he would like to seek other alternatives to address the capacity issues at King County’s jails.

“I don’t feel comfortable that I’ve had all the opportunity to check all the boxes and explore all the alternatives so I will be a no-vote today,” Zahilay said at a King County Council meeting.

The agreement will begin when it has been signed by both parties of the agreement and terminate on Dec. 31, 2024. Inmates could be sent to the South Correctional Entity as early as June this year.

This article First appeared in the center square

Follow by Email