EXCLUSIVE: Seattle jail closes booking area due to staffing shortage

The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) in Washington state closed the booking area at their Seattle jail on Sunday night due to a lack of staff.

Two months ago, DAJD decided to close the Regional Justice Center (RJC) booking area due to staffing shortages. As a result, the booking area at the RJC will remain closed for the remainder of the year. Due to the closure of the RJC booking, the King County Jail in Seattle is the only operational booking facility for all of the King County Jail system.

Anyone arrested in King County who needed to be housed in the King County Jail system must be booked at the Seattle jail. South end cities like Federal Way and Kent have raised concerns about the closing the Regional Justice Center with DAJD leadership.

According to Dennis Folk, President of the King County Corrections Guild, “By closing the booking area, anyone arrested by a police agency in King County for a crime like DUI, domestic violence assault, or even felony charges like murder or rape will have to be held by that police agency overnight or let go pending charges.”

Folk added that the King County Corrections Guild is very concerned about the impact this will have on the region’s public safety.  “With violent crime at an all-time high and murders happening almost daily in King County, the jails must remain open for violent offenders to be booked, and they must be off the street.  The citizens of King County deserve to be safe in their communities.”

Crime continued to escalate in King County over the weekend. A 14-year-old was injured following a gunfight early Sunday morning, a 63-year-old man is in the hospital in critical condition after he was assaulted at the Bellevue Transit Center and Renton Police are investigating an early Sunday morning shooting that left one man dead.

In February, public defenders and corrections officials in King County, Washington asked to end jail bookings for individuals that are not being held on non-violent felony charges in response to dire staffing shortages.

The proposal was opposed by the county prosecutor’s office. During the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Washington State was one vote away from releasing Gary Ridgway, the Green River serial killer, along with other murderers.

In March 2020, King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered corrections officials to stop jailing people accused of many misdemeanors. According to data from April 2021, King County has released more than 650 adult prisoners and 26 juveniles since the outbreak of the pandemic under the guise of COVID at the direction of Dow Constantine. They were released despite the county and state experiencing a massive increase in crime due to the “defund the police” movement and the county’s lack of prosecution.

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