Federal Way may be sending inmates to city of Kent jail

Cities negotiating contract for 2020.

Rafael Padilla

Rafael Padilla

Federal Way Police could be housing inmates in the city of Kent jail starting in 2020.

“We’re still in the negotiation stage with Federal Way but are working on a contract, which we hope to have in place in spring/summer of 2019,” Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla said in an email.

Federal Way leaders decided last year to leave a seven-city interlocal agreement with the South Correctional Entity (SCORE) regional jail in Des Moines, which opened in 2012. Kent operates its own jail and is not part of that regional agreement.

“Prior to housing inmates at SCORE, the city of Federal Way contracted with various government entities for its jail services,” said Tyler Hemstreet, city of Federal Way spokesman, in an email. “We are returning to contracting inmates to bring significant jail cost savings.”

The cost and how many inmates Kent will house for Federal Way remains to be negotiated. Federal Way will need to house about 50 to 60 inmates per day starting in January, so it plans to contract with several jails.

“We are in talks with other government entities about housing our inmates,” Hemstreet said. “Our goal is to have a total of five or six jail service contracts in place by the end of the summer that will address our jail population.”

Leaving SCORE is expected to save Federal Way about $2.1 million per year, Hemstreet said. When the city joined Auburn, Renton, Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien and Tukwila in 2009 to build the new jail, it was expected to be less expensive than contracting with jails in other cities or counties. But the costs at the new jail have been much higher than projected.

Kent’s jail, 1230 Central Ave. S., has 98 beds on the hard side with a dormitory that can hold another 30-plus inmates who are on work release and return at night. The average daily population in the jail is 89 for 2018. The average daily population had hit 99 in 2017, but the city’s new DUI court diversion program and a statewide Leadership, Intervention & Change (LINC) program, which helps young adults in gangs, has reduced the numbers.

Kent still contracts with the Yakima County Jail to handle overflow inmates, mainly the female population. The city sent about seven inmates per month to Yakima in 2018.

“It’s important to note that we are in position to send inmates to Yakima if we reach a population that exceeds our capacity.” Padilla said. “That process results in cost savings to Kent taxpayers because it not only brings our inmate population within a manageable size, but allows us to house those inmates at a significantly lower cost.”

Padilla said Federal Way staff approached Kent about using its jail.

“We believe the negotiated agreement will result in benefits to both cities,” Padilla said. “Federal Way stands to significantly reduce their costs and Kent stands to generate modest revenue that will then be reinvested in the maintenance and upkeep of the Kent jail.”

Kent began a contract with the city of Maple Valley in 2015 to provide two beds. That contract expires in January 202o.

“This has been a successful partnership and we believe the partnership with Federal Way will be successful as well,” Padilla said.

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