Want a new Spokane County jail? You’ll have a chance to vote on it

SPOKANE, Wash – Spokane County Commissioners voted Tuesday to put a new jail – and the tax to pay for it – on the ballot next November.

The commissioners plan to put a measure on the ballot for a “new modernized Community Corrections Center.”

Taxpayers will fund the project through a 0.2% sales and use tax.

Commissioners cited overcrowding, inadequate capacity and the desire to have a more “therapeutic model.”

“We’re talking about re-entry programs, we’re talking about therapy, we’re talking about a new expanded facility,” said Commissioner Al French during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “It’s about investing in a criminal justice system that will keep our taxpayers safe.”

“On a yearly basis, the County continues to spend a significant amount of valuable tax-payer funds on the maintenance and capital costs of current aging facilities, which are not significantly extending the life of these facilities,” the County said in a news release Tuesday night. “If approved, these funds will be used to construct an improved Community Correction Center facility with the ability to hold more inmates, offer programming and behavioral health programs, realize operational efficiencies, and require significantly less maintenance and capital improvement costs for years to come. ”

Commissioners say a team has been assigned to best review the needs of the criminal justice system.

The current jail was built in 1986 and designed to hold 462 inmates.

The county says there are regularly more than 800 people in the jail with peaks over 900.

You can watch the meeting where commissioners voted to bring this to a vote at this link.