December 30, 2015 Wendy Harris
A few facts about the new contract with Yakima jail are red flags that should concern all of us. Jails should not be built as income producing investments because when they are, that is when the very worst abuses occur. Now how is it possible that I am aware of this, and the BPD is not?
Not only would this jail be far from the inmates home, family and community, there is built in incentive for Yakima to keep these inmates, for a fee, for as long as possible. How much responsibility is Yakima to be given over things like alleged conduct problems, such as fighting or failing to cooperate? Will there be a special advocate for the inmates also housed down in the Yakima jail to act as an intermediary (not associated with either the Bellingham or Yakima justice system? )
My discomfort is caused in part by these types of quotes in the article from the folks down in Yakima:
That jail – built solely to house inmates under contract from other communities – was closed at the end of 2010 when the county lost several contracts worth millions of dollars as other jails were brought on line elsewhere in the state. Meanwhile, the debt left over from building that facility remains.
Campbell said he’s working on a federal contract that possibly could open a second pod at the 288-bed jail on Pacific Avenue, and is also in talks with other west-side communities to house their inmates under contract.
Fully utilizing the Pacific Avenue jail means covering its construction debt without continually straining other county government revenue streams.
“We’ve been actively, aggressively out trying to get contracts to get that jail fully utilized,” Campbell said.