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No room at the inn for Kitsap County suspects
There’s less and less room at the inn for certain suspects at the Kitsap County Jail.
Deputy Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, says that his agency, which oversees the county jail, has had to restrict intake standards to alleviate overcrowding. That means that some suspects — arrested for driving under the influence, shoplifting, driving on suspended licenses and other misdemeanor crimes — are booked into the jail but released without having to pay bail.
“For anything that’s a misdemeanor under Washington law, we’re not going to hold them, with the exception of domestic violence,” Wilson said. “In the past, when we had the capacity, we would normally take people who were arrested for gross misdemeanors. But we’ve had to tighten things up a bit. We will certainly still book them, but we won’t hold them.”
Folks that are arrested and booked are released on personal recognizance and a promise to appear in court. When it comes to Kitsap County Court, that hearing is almost always the next business day at 1:30 p.m., Wilson said, noting that, “there’s no free pass” for people suspected of committing crimes in Kitsap County.
Wilson said that overcrowding at the jail is the driving in factor in tightening booking standards.
“We are in a situation where we are putting people on the floor on mattresses and getting into a situation that is unsafe for the folks in the jail and the staff,” Wilson said.
Following a 2004 expansion of the jail, the facility was equipped to handle 421 inmates. As of Tuesday, the inmate population was at 456.
Wilson said that there has been a rising trend of overcrowding for quite some time and officials were finally forced to take action while the number of inmates continued to rise with no sign of letting up.
“Especially while we were under construction (back in 2004), we had to employ restrictions on inmate standards,” he said. “Since then, we’ve had the room. What we are facing now is a situation of budgets. We are only allocated so many beds. In order to exceed that, we have to go to the board of county commissioners for additional funding. Right now, we just don’t have that.”
Wilson also noted that for a variety of reasons, folks that have gone through the criminal justice system are tending to stay in jail for longer and longer lengths of time afterwards.
“The average length of stay for an adjudicated inmate was 15 days, but now we’re seeing that increase significantly,” he said.
Wilson also noted that people that are arrested and booked for DUI, whether released on personal recognizance or bail, automatically lose their vehicle to impound for a minimum of 12 hours under state law.