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File photo

Kent city jail to house inmates from Federal Way

Cities near agreement for at least five spaces per day by end of year

The city of Kent jail will house at least five inmates per day for the city of Federal Way under a three-year interlocal agreement expected to go into effect on Dec. 23.

Federal Way leaders approached the city of Kent after deciding to leave a seven-city interlocal agreement with the South Correctional Entity (SCORE) regional jail in Des Moines, which opened in 2012. Federal Way officials say the city will save more than $2 million per year because of higher costs at the regional facility. Kent operates its own jail.

The Kent City Council approved the contract Tuesday. The council’s Public Safety Committee on June 11 recommended that the full council adopt the agreement. The initial term would start Dec. 23, 2019 and remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2022, according to city documents.

“Federal Way came to us, they do not have their own facility, and asked if we could house some of their inmates,” Assistant Kent Police Chief Jarod Kasner said to the committee. “We would provide to book a set number of inmates with the possibility of more. There will be an impact to our population, but we are able to mitigate it, and will collaborate with our neighbors to help them out.”

Kent expects to make about $115,445 per year from the deal, with estimated revenue of $666,125 and expenses of $550,979, Kasner said. Federal Way would pay $750 per day for the five inmates ($150 each) which would bring in $273,750 per year. Kent figures it will free up another five spots per day at a cost of $180 per inmate to bring in another $328,500. A booking fee of $35 for every inmate would produce about $64,000 per year.

The expenses include hiring two full-time corrections guards at a cost of $142,224 for salaries and $49,778 for benefits as well as paying $98.35 per day ($358,977 per year) to the Yakima County Jail to house as many as 10 inmates for day. Kent has a contract with Yakima to send inmates to that county when the Kent jail population overflows.

“We would send our long-term inmates to Yakima and allow us to facilitate Federal Way,” Kasner said.

Yakima covers the travel costs of transporting inmates for Kent, Kasner said.

Federal Way will arrange and pay for travel costs to Kent and reimburse Kent for medical transportation and medical supervision costs for inmates. Federal Way must release its inmates in the city of Federal Way unless the inmate is a Kent resident.

The city jail, 1230 Central Ave. S., officially called the City of Kent Corrections Facility, opened in 1986. It houses misdemeanor offenders arrested by police as well as those sentenced to less than one year in Kent Municipal Court. The crimes include drunk driving, domestic violence, minor assaults and petty theft. Felony cases are handled by King County’s Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent or the downtown Seattle county jail.

Kent’s jail 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 was 92 for 2018. The average daily population had hit 99 in 2017, but Kent has kept the population down with diversion programs, including electronic home monitoring.

Kent also houses at least two inmates per day for the city of Maple Valley, an agreement that began in 2015 and expires in 2020.

Council members wanted to make sure Kent still has enough jail space for Kent inmates.

“You don’t see this hurting our ability to handle inmates with giving up five spaces?” Councilmember Toni Troutner asked Kasner at the committee meeting.

“Our jail commander looked at it, and five was a workable number based on the jail population at the time of the request,” Kasner said.

Federal Way joined the cities of Auburn, Renton, Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien and Tukwila in 2009 to build the regional jail, which was expected to be less expensive than contracting with jails in other cities or counties. But the costs at the regional jail have been much higher than projected.

Federal Way plans to contract with several cities or counties to handle its 50 to 60 inmates per day starting in January. Federal Way contracted with other jail facilities prior to joining the regional jail program.

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