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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

City Tries to Lock Down Jail Site

posted by on June 4 at 12:33 PM

Next month, the city will hold a series of meetings to discuss their plan for a new city jail. Right now, the city is looking at four sites in West Seattle, Interbay and Haller Lake, and neighbors are already organizing to keep the jail—which would only be used to hold people for misdemeanor crimes—out of their backyards.

Due to overcrowding at the King County Jail, Seattle needs needs to build its own facility by 2012. Last month, the city announced four sites—at 11762 Aurora Avenue N, 1600 W. Armory Way, Highland Park Way Southwest and West Marginal Way, and
9501 Myers Way S—which could end up being the home to a seven acre jail.

Neighborhood groups in West Seattle—who’ve received support from King County Councilmember Dow Constantine and State Rep, Sharon Nelson—and Haller Lake have already sent out fliers or held meetings to rally the troops. Strangely, Magnolia residents have been surprisingly quiet about the Interbay site.

As I’ve said, the Aurora site seems like a good bet. SPD’s North Precinct needs to be rebuilt—it’s slowly sinking into the bog it was built on—and jail sites in Interbay or West Seattle just don’t seem to have the transportation infrastructure in place to deal with the number of people who will be dumped out of jail on to the street every morning.

The meeting schedule is as follows:

Thursday, June 26, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Aerospace Machinists Union Hall A, located at 9125 15th Place S. – focus: West Marginal Way and Myers Way sites

Saturday, July 12, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Wellness Center at North Seattle Community College, located at 9600 College Way N. – focus: Aurora site

Saturday, July 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Brockey Conference Center at South Seattle Community College, located at 6000 16th Ave. S.W. – focus: West Marginal Way and Myers Way sites

Wednesday, July 30, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, located at 225 Mercer Street – focus: Interbay site.

Finally, I’ve gotten a few emails pointing out the irony of the city’s search for a sprawling 7-acre site when we’ve also been pushing a pro-density message. Yeah, it’s kind of funny, but the reason the city’s doing it is because single-floor jails are supposedly cheaper and safer to operate. That’s it.

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Use the Amazon building once they move out. It's already spooky and imposing. Parents can point it out to their children. "If you're bad, you go to the jail on the hill! There!"

Posted by JC | June 4, 2008 1:21 PM

if you want to see the reaction of people in Magnolia, log on to where you can also read on as people shit themselves about proposed low income housing in Discovery Park.

Posted by Linsey | June 4, 2008 1:33 PM

The one that makes the only sense is Interbay, quite frankly, but I expect certain rich people to make a fuss and get us a suboptimal choice anyway.

Magnolia needs to realize rich people need jails near their houses too. Especially other than white collar criminals.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 2:35 PM

I still think it's awfully short-sighted to use 7 acres of City land for a jail. It's false economy to waste that much space for this. And the jail should be located near the courts. How much money and gas is going to be spent shuttling prisoners to and from these sites? It's even cheaper to just let everyone out on their own recognizance and hope for the best.

Posted by guest | June 4, 2008 3:55 PM

Valid point @4. Part of the reason for Interbay is that it IS closer to the courts.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 4, 2008 5:34 PM

The jail will only hold misdemeanor offenders, so it's not the same as KCJ which is constantly moving prisoners between different facilities. This is more of a hold-you-overnight kind of place.

Posted by Jonah S | June 4, 2008 8:55 PM

Yeah, hold you overnight until you can go to the district court and get a very low bail at a courtroom that is currently located inside the King County Jail. If you need a trial, and lots do, the district courts are conveniently located across the street from the current King County Jail. Which is not a convenient location if the prisoners are several miles away.

The shuttling of prisoners also has to go on because many people picked up for warrants have multiple warrants. Most of which go on in the Superior Court, which conveniently has that two block long skybridge from the King County Jail and shuttles 50-100 prisoners back and forth every day.

For the number of prisoners they say they need - if they built a stacked jail situation like the KCJ, they'd need four stories, not seven acres. This needs to be downtown - if they'd thought ahead a few years ago (when they knew the issue was going to happen) it could have been built as a couple of secured floors of that new municipal building. Too bad so sad, but this still needs to be downtown.

Posted by Name*: | June 4, 2008 10:57 PM

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