Politics & Government

Tacoma council approves agreements with Pierce County and other area jails

The Tacoma City Council unanimously approved four contracts with area jails to house city misdemeanor inmates.

Previously the city used the services of the city of Fife, which acted as a broker to send inmates to jails around the state that had space and wanted the money.

Defense attorneys for inmates said last year that they had trouble speaking with clients in far-flung jails, some in Eastern Washington.

The agreements authorized Tuesday are expected to save money, Assistant City Manager Mark Lauzier said.

Under the new contracts, the Pierce County Jail will house inmates awaiting trial. Those inmates require more frequent access to the court system and their attorneys. Tacoma will pay Pierce County $75.80 per inmate per day, down from the $85-per-day fee the city paid in 2012.

Once inmates are sentenced for crimes, they will stay in a jail operated by the Nisqually Indian Tribe near Olympia.

It will take time for the Pierce County Jail to hire enough staff to manage the 75 inmates Tacoma will eventually house there. Tacoma will pay Pierce County $600,000 through the end of the year to cover overtime costs for jail deputies until the county can hire more staff. The money also will renovate a “pod” at the county jail where about 75 inmates would be housed.

The Fife jail will house inmates through the end of this month, according to a contract extension the council passed Tuesday. After that, the city will send inmates to the South Correctional Entity, or SCORE, in Des Moines, a jail that will charge $97 per day.

By the end of this year or start of the next, about half of the city’s inmates will reside in the Pierce County Jail, and the other half will be in the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s facility.

Fife will continue to manage inmates who are sentenced to electronic home monitoring, Lauzier said.