Official wants check on outside agencies leaving inmates here
EVERETT - City Councilman Ron Gipson is raising concern about a number of police departments bringing their inmates to the Snohomish County Jail and never taking them back, which he says leaves many of them to wander the streets of Everett when they’re eventually released.
Gipson called on city officials last week to “send a strong message” on this issue.
The city has been talking with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, about having outside police agencies take their inmates back home.
The Sheriff’s Office has been responsive and open to addressing the city’s concerns during initial talks, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said last week.
Mayor Ray Stephanson said the problem is unacceptable.
Gipson said 24 law enforcement agencies from Redmond to Issaquah to Medina — one of the richest neighborhoods near Seattle — send people to the Snohomish County Jail because it’s cheaper to house them here than in King County.
“I hate to see us be the dumping spot in this county because we have the cheaper rates,” Gipson said, saying a city like Medina should be able to pick their inmates up.
Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton wasn’t sure at press time whether outside agencies have take-back provisions written into their contracts with the jail.
Ireton said the jail isn’t pursuing these contracts to make money. Inmates that come in with medical needs can end up costing a lot to house them, she said. She also noted the number of outside inmates is a small percentage of the jail’s total 1,100 population.
Sheriff Ty Trenary is looking into this issue in addition to a number of separate reforms and improvements at the Snohomish County Jail, Ireton said.
Gipson decided to speak up after noticing an increase in homeless people downtown.
That increase may, in part, be due to the Everett Police Department’s recent effort to disburse people loitering around the Everett Gospel Mission Men’s Shelter on Smith Avenue. A number of them relocated to the downtown area.
Deputy Chief Dan Templeman said more homeless people hanging out downtown can’t squarely be blamed on jail releases.
Some newly released inmates don’t want to go back home, Templeman said.
At least one agency, the Seattle Police Department, offers bus passes to their inmates so they can get back home, Ireton said.
Many homeless individuals also use services located downtown, Templeman said.
Stephanson said the conversations with the Sheriff’s Office have been cooperative, but city officials did not provide any more details.
Council President Jeff Moore said if less aggressive methods haven’t worked, the city may need to step up its pressure.
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