County announces new preferred jail site

SPOKANE - The County Commissioners decided on a preferred location for a new Spokane County jail Tuesday night.

At around 6:45pm, the three members voted on the preferred site for the Jail. Both Commisioners Todd Mielke and Mark Richard voted in favor of a site in Medical Lake.

Commissioner Bonnie Mager voted against the Medical Lake site. She wants a brand new high rise to be built for the jail on a site just north of the current Spokane County Jail.

Commissioners had previously decided to build the new six story jail on the public safety campus but backed away from their decision when they learned of the cost. Since that time, consultants have shown that while building a vertical jail near the existing one would be more expensive, it would also be cheaper to operate over the course of the next 30 years. The downtown option would coast $54 million more to build a high rise, than it would to build a one-story jail in Medical Lake.

Only a simple majority was needed to pick the preferred site.

On top of the jail site, the Commissioners also voted on a preferred location for a Community Corrections Facility. The goal of the Community Corrections Facility is to stop offenders from going back out on the streets and offending again. It will house beds for all day-release inmates and provide programs like the G.E.D. program, fatherhood program, and the work crew program.

The jail expansion project got its start years ago when a jail built in the 1980s to hold 450 people was housing closer to 700. Overcrowding has led to assaults on staff and inmates and at least one murder. While inmate populations have recently dropped the sheriff expects the number of prisoners to increase over all with our rising population.

Voters will be asked to approve a bond proposal to help pay for the jail next April.