Spokane County considers temporary jail pods to relieve overcrowding

SPOKANE, Wash. — Overcrowding has been an ongoing issue at the Spokane County Jail. It’s a complex problem with no easy solution.

Over the years, the overcrowded jail has not only impacted inmates, but also staff.

“We’re doubled in most of the floors. Currently on our floors, we’re having two officers to 92 inmates,” said Mike Sparber, Spokane County Jail Director.

Spokane County has been pushing for the construction of a new jail. Even then, that jail would take up to four years to complete.

“The jail is overcrowded and the population needs to go somewhere,” Sparber said.

Sparber thinks a temporary jail could be the answer. While it would be temporary, he along with County Commissioners believe it could be a step in the right direction.

The pods are made from reinforced fabric or metal and could hold up 200-400 inmates. Sparber said this would not only relieve staff, but also give inmates more freedom.

“It allows them to make contact with support groups and take care of their everyday business on their own,” said Sparber.

This would allow staff to focus on keeping the jail safe, while also figuring out a permanent solution.

“I’m going to continue producing ideas to alleviate some of the congestion,” Sparber said.

The project has not yet been approved. The first step would be to hire a consultant to see if the plan would be feasible, which could happen in the coming weeks.