Politics & Government

Private jails no longer banned in Tacoma

The Tacoma City Council has rolled back its interim correctional facilities rules, mainly by regulating private and public correctional facilities the same way. The council earlier tried to ban private correctional facilities, such as the Northwest Detention Center on the Tideflats.
The Tacoma City Council has rolled back its interim correctional facilities rules, mainly by regulating private and public correctional facilities the same way. The council earlier tried to ban private correctional facilities, such as the Northwest Detention Center on the Tideflats. The Seattle Times

After a short ban, private correctional facilities no longer are prohibited in Tacoma.

The City Council voted Tuesday night to roll back interim rules that banned private correctional facilities, such as the Northwest Detention Center on the Tideflats.

The regulations, approved in March, were meant to keep the facility, which can house about 1,575 immigrant detainees, from expanding.

But because the detention center is considered an essential public facility under state law, legal staff advised that the city can’t ban it outright, despite community concerns and the council’s discomfort with having it in Tacoma’s backyard.

So Tuesday night, the council voted to change the interim rules so that they regulate private and public correctional facilities (such as the Pierce County Jail or the Remann Hall juvenile detention center) the same way.

The council also voted to make any modification to a jail that would increase inmate capacity a major modification, requiring more public input.

And it modified the conditional-use permit process to make sure more opportunities for public engagement will be part of any permit for an existing correctional facility that wants to grow a “significant” amount. The city previously described that by increasing more than 10 percent.

The new interim rules will be in place for one year, instead of six months.

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud

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