Jail Services and Alternatives to Incarceration
This page provides a general overview of how local government across Washington approach corrections, including interlocal contracting and alternatives to incarceration.
Each county, city, and town is responsible for the prosecution, adjudication, sentencing, and incarceration of misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses committed by adults in their respective jurisdictions, and referred from their respective law enforcement agencies, whether filed under state law or city ordinance, and must carry out these responsibilities through the use of their own courts, staff, and facilities, or by entering into contracts or interlocal agreements to provide these services. Jail overcrowding, costs of prisoner care, drug offenses, and the growing number of mentally ill in the jail system are issues faced by local governments.
- Ch.72.09 RCW – Describes statutory authority and responsibilities of the State Department of Corrections
- RCW 72.09.300 – Mandates counties to establish an intergovernmental forum to coordinate city and county law and justice services
- RCW 70.48 – Mandates standards for city and county jail operations
- RCW 70.48.071 – Describes standards for operation and adoption by units of local government
- RCW 70.48.090 – Interlocal contracts for jail services
- RCW 70.48.095 – Regional jails
- RCW 70.48.130 – Describes emergency or necessary medical and health care for confined persons, including reimbursement procedures, conditions, and limitations
- Ch. 70.395 RCW – Prohibits local governments from operating private detention facilities or utilizing a contract with a private detention facility, with minor exceptions
- RCW 39.34.180 – Authorizes interlocal agreements for providing misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor criminal justice services and establishes binding arbitration to resolve disputes
Examples of Interlocal Jail Agreements
RCW 39.34.180 and RCW 70.48.090 allow a city or county to contract with other cities or counties for jail services via interlocal agreements. Jail services can include the provision of prosecution, adjudication, indigent defense, sentencing, and incarceration services for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses.
Counties Providing Jail Services to Other Counties
- Benton County/Franklin County Jail Facilities Mutual Use Agreement (2017) - Allowing each county to use the other county's jail facilities as needed; includes adopting ordinance
- Snohomish County/Skagit County Jail Services Agreement (2016) - Housing Skagit County prisoners at Snohomish County jail
Counties Providing Jail Services to Cities
- King County/Black Diamond Jail Services Agreement (2011) – Appendices include detailed information on billing, inmate transfers, and fee calculations
- Kittitas County/South Cle Elum Inmate Housing Agreement (2017) – Includes adopting resolution
- Mason County/Shelton Jail Facilities Agreement (2017)
- Yakima County/Sunnyside Inmate Housing Agreement (2011) – Appendices include inmate billing procedures and medical acceptability policy.
Cities Providing Jail Services to Other Cities
- Forks/Montesano Prisoner Confinement Services Agreement (2017)
- Puyallup/Bonney Lake Inmate Housing Agreement (2017) – Includes adopting resolution
- Puyallup/Milton Inmate Housing Agreement (2015) – Includes three guaranteed beds
- Wapato/Bellevue Corrections Detention Agreement (2017) – Applies to adult male prisoners only
Cities Providing Jail Services to Counties
Jail Agreements with Tribes
- Bonney Lake/Nisqually Tribe Inmate Housing Agreement (2016) – Includes adopting resolution
- Snohomish County/Stillaguamish Tribe Jail Services Agreement (2017)
- Snohomish County/Upper Skagit Tribe Jail Services Agreement (2012)
Cooperative Jail Facilities
Formed by interlocal agreements between multiple municipalities, cooperative jail facilities provide jail services that are conveniently located at a cost effective rate for the owner cities, which have operational control over the entity, and provide efficiencies for criminal justice partners.
Single County Jail Facilities
- King County South Correctional Entity (SCORE) – Based in Des Moines; serves the confinement needs of 7 member cities (Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Renton, Tukwila, Burien, and SeaTac) and a number of contract agencies. See also, SCORE Interlocal Agreements for links to associated agency interlocal agreements.
- Benton County Justice Center – Provides incarceration and alternative program services to all law enforcement jurisdictions within Benton County (Kennewick, Richland, West Richland, Prosse,r and Benton City)
- Chelan County Juvenile Justice Facility – Provides incarceration and alternative program services to Chelan County, Cashmere, Chelan, Entiat, Leavenworth, and Wenatchee
Multicounty Jail Facilities
- Chelan County Regional Justice Center – Serves Chelan and Douglas County
- Martin Hall Juvenile Center – The facility began operation in November 1997 through an agreement among the Boards of County Commissioners in Whitman, Adams, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Douglas, Asotin, Lincoln, Ferry, and Spokane counties.
Alternatives to Incarceration
Local governments seek alternatives to jail to reduce jail overcrowding and effect cost savings. Cities and counties can partner with the state Department of Corrections’ work programs or offer their own programs. Alternatives to incarceration encompasses a variety of treatment or punishment and can include reporting to the jail during the day, electronic monitoring, work release, work crews, and/or community service.
- RCW 9.94A.680 – Allows for alternatives to total confinement for offenders with sentences of one year or less
- Pretrial Justice Institute Resources – Resources for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to explore national legal standards and evidence-based and promising practices in administering the pretrial stage of the criminal case process
- U.S. Office of Justice, Office of Justice Programs: A Second Look at Alleviating Jail Crowding - A Systems Perspective (2000) – Describes how system officials have attempted to minimize jail crowding over a 15-year period
RCW 9.94A.734 defines the conditions under which home detention can and cannot be employed. Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs’ Correctional Options Services page describes the electronic monitoring equipment available to municipalities.
- Snohomish County’s Home-based Detention Program
- Bellevue’s Probation Services, which includes electronic home detention, deferred prosecution, and deferred sentencing
- Clallam County’s contract with Sequim to provide Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM) screening and notification services
- Renton’s Electronic Home Detention program
Community Service and Work Crew Programs
RCW 9.94A.725 defines the conditions upon which an offender may participate on a work crew, what type of work a work crew might undertake, describes additional services that can be offered under the program, and sets requirements an offender must meet in order to complete a work crew program. Ch. 36.110 RCW defines and details the Jail Industries Programs (e.g., work crew programs) that municipalities may develop.
- Clark County Community Work Crew Program
- Cowlitz County Work Crew
- Grant County Work Release Center
- Lakewood Municipal Code Ch. 2.32 – Establishes the city’s work crew program
- Thurston County’s Correctional Options Program and Work Crew Rules
City and County Corrections Programs
- Clark County Corrections – Services include education, electronic home confinement, investigations (pre-trial and post-sentence), pre-trial release, probation services, DUI offender programs, screening for court appointed attorneys, offender services for women, work crew, district court, and specialized courts
- Cowlitz County Offender Services – Services include work crew, EHM, education, day reporting, counseling, pre-trial release supervision, and community re-entry
- Kent Jail Programs – Alternatives for nonviolent offenders include out-of-custody, supervised, and unsupervised work crews, EHI, and work release programs
- Pierce County Detention and Corrections Center – Services offered include health services, commissary, pretrial services, chaplaincy, inmate money, and road crew for minimum-security, non-violent offenders
- Gateways for Incarcerated Youth program at Evergreen State College
- King County Correctional Facility Inmate Programs
- Pierce County Resolution No. R2011-59 – Authorizes an interlocal agreement between Pierce County and the Tacoma School District for Educational Services at the Pierce County Jail for inmates under the age of 18 at the time of incarceration
Offenders with Mental Health Disorders
- State of Washington Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee: Analysis of Establishing a Regional Jail Facility for Offenders with Mental Health or Co-Occurring Mental and Chemical Dependency Disorders, (2006) – Analyzes whether an existing building could be converted to a specialized regional jail for offenders who have mental illnesses or co-occurring chemical dependency disorders
- Criminal Justice Mental Health Consensus Project - Coordinated by Council on State Governments
Medical and Health Care for Confined Persons
Through RCW 70.48.130, the legislature requires that all jail inmates receive appropriate and cost-effective emergency and necessary medical care. RCW 70.48.130 requires governing units, the health care authority, and medical care providers to cooperate to achieve the best rates consistent with adequate care. As referenced in RCW 70.48.130, "governing unit" is defined in RCW 70.48.020(6) as "the city and/or county or any combinations of cities and/or counties responsible for the operation, supervision, and maintenance of a jail."
RCW 70.48.130 covers several issues related to the provision of medical and health care for confined persons, including payment. Although the confined person generally is responsible for paying for his/her medical and health care, RCW 70.48.130 addresses which entities pay for which expenses based upon the circumstances at issue (e.g., whether the person is eligible under the health care authority's medical care programs) and the means by which those entities can seek reimbursement. One of the scenarios addressed by RCW 70.48.130 relates to reimbursement for law enforcement agencies, including with respect to those agencies whose officers initiated the charges on which the person is being held in jail. RCW 70.48.130 also includes several references to chapter 74.09 RCW, which is a means by which providers receive reimbursement in some circumstances.
An issue of potential interest is that reference to "law enforcement" was previously deleted from RCW 70.48.130 and that wording has returned because the changes to the statute that deleted the wording expired on June 30, 2009. AGO 2005 No. 8 interprets a key provision of RCW 70.48.130 as it reads currently, with the "law enforcement" reference in paragraph (5) included. According to AGO 2005 No. 8, "subject to reimbursement by arrestees who are financially capable of paying for their own medical care, and setting aside certain cases in which the state is responsible for the expenses in question," the costs of providing necessary medical care to arrestees ultimately falls on the unit of government whose officers made the arrest, absent an agreement otherwise. Counties and cities do not always agree, however, regarding which agency is responsible for paying which expenses, especially where an agreement does not exist addressing such issues.
- AGO 2005 No. 8 – Details the financial responsibility for costs of medical care provided to arrestees after detainment but before booking into jail.
- AGO 1980 No. 21 – Relates to responsibilities for costs of prisoners between the city and county for felony convictions
- Attorney General Informal Opinion – Establishes liability for medical treatment of prisoners between the city and county, pre and post sentencing
These programs help ex-offenders transition back into the community after having served a jail sentence.
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Exit Strategy for Parolees (2010) – Profiles reentry programs and approaches in several different states
- Justice Center Council of State Governments: Reentry Policy Council – The project was established in 2001 to assist state government officials grappling with the increasing number of people leaving prisons and jails to return to the communities they left behind.
- U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration: The Reentry Employment Opportunities (RExO) program – Provides funding for reentry programs across the nation.
- National Institute of Corrections: Offender Reentry/Transition – Profiles reentry programs
- U.S. Dept of Labor, Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives: Ready4Work - Prisoner Reentry Tool Kit for Faith-Based and Community Organizations (2008) – A guide for small- and medium-sized faith- and community-based organizations interested in developing reentry programs
- The Urban Institute: Transition from Jail to Community Initiative – Offers publications and an online toolkit to help jurisdictions seeking to address jail-to-community transition
Siting of Correctional Facilities (Jails, Work-Release, and Others)
Jails ("local correctional facilities") are, by statutory definition, considered to be essential public facilities (EPF) and subject to the provisions of RCW 36.70A.200.
Siting Local Government Facilities
RCW 70.48.180 gives counties the specific authority to locate and operate jail facilities at any place designated by the county legislative authority within the territorial limits of the county, including within the city. RCW 70.48.190 grants similar authority to cities and allows cities to locate municipal jail facilities within the territorial limits of the county in which the city or town is situated.
While the Growth Management Act’s intent is to establish a collaborative process involving cities in the siting of essential countywide, regional, and state facilities, RCW 70.48.180 grants ultimate authority to the county. While the county would be required to follow the city’s permitting requirements, the city could not prohibit the siting of the essential public facility within the city. The city must follow a process for EPF siting that is consistent with the adopted countywide planning policies.
Siting State Government Work Release or Other Community-based Facility
RCW 72.65.220 details the siting process for the Department of Corrections and/or its contractors must undertake in siting work-release or other community-based facilities while WAC 137-57-050 covers site-selection procedures for work/training release sites.
- Washington State Department of Corrections
- National Institute of Corrections – Offers technical assistance and a resource library with publications on standards, inspections, and accreditation
- Washington State Office of Financial Management: Prison and Jail Usage in Washington State (2008) – this brief looks at prison and jail usage in Washington State using 2003 data
- American Correctional Association – publishes operational standards designed to enhance correctional practices for the benefit inmates, staff, administrators, and the public
- Washington State Data Book – See Criminal Justice section for data on the criminal justice system
- National Commission on Correctional Health Care, Standards for Health Services in Jails
- National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice
- Budget Guide for Jail Administrators (2002 ) – Contains Part 1 (Developing a Budget), Part 2 (Managing the Budget), and Part 3 (Beyond Budget Allocation: Sources of Funding and Services)
- Jail Planning and Expansion - Local Officials and Their Roles (2010) – This publication should be the first that elected officials and other policymakers turn to when developing jail facilities. Includes a facility development process flowchart