King County executive order aims to keep inmates, jail workers safe during pandemic

King County executive order aims to keep inmates, jail workers safe during pandemic
File photo of the King County Jail. (KIRO 7 News)

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an executive order Tuesday to work to decrease the jail population so as to keep inmate and workers safer during the coronavirus pandemic.

The order takes several actions to improve the safety of inmates and jail workers.

“We are working with every partner in the criminal justice system – courts, public defenders, prosecutors, corrections, and law enforcement – to maintain public safety and ensure the health and safety of everyone in our correctional facilities, including our employees who work on the front lines,” said Constantine. “Quickly and safely reducing the number of people who are in custody will provide our healthcare professionals the space they need to follow recommendations by Public Health.

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The release said the total adult jail population has already been decreased by over 300 as part of an effort to give all inmates single bunk beds. It would also give people with higher risk of severe complications the ability to self isolate.

Correctional facilities will restrict the types of bookings they accept, including not accepting most misdemeanor charges. Assaults, violations of no contact or protection orders, DUIs, sex crimes or other charges that present a public safety concern will still be processed.

The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention will delay commitment sentences until public gathering restrictions are lifted, allowing people to report to jail at a later date.

Jails will also no longer accept people who are arrested for violating the terms of community supervision.