The city of Wapato, which the Bellevue City Council unanimously directed city staff to pursue an interlocal agreement with regarding jail services, is located about 150 miles east of Bellevue. Wapato has a population of just more than 5,000. Photo courtesy of the city of Bellevue

Bellevue to pursue interlocal agreement with Wapato for jail services

The Bellevue City Council unanimously directed city staff at its July 10 study session to pursue an interlocal agreement with the city of Wapato for jail services.

Councilmember Jennifer Robertson called the move a “no-brainer.”

Historically, the city of Bellevue has contracted jail services to house misdemeanor inmates through King County, Snohomish County and the cities of Yakima, Renton and Issaquah, as well as South Correctional Entity Regional Jail, also known as SCORE. Currently it utilizes only the Issaquah Jail, King County Jail, and SCORE, which is a jail in Des Moines.

“We’re always evaluating our options,” Assistant Police Chief Patrick Arpin said, citing the need to spend money wisely and stay within budget.

Arpin said the city of Wapato, which is located 150 miles east of Bellevue past Yakima with a population of just more than 5,000, recently contacted the city.

“They’re looking to boost their inmate population so they’re looking for who will send prisoners out there,” Arpin said.

The city of Bellevue would only consider sending inmates with sentences of 30 days or more to Wapato, Arpin said. And these inmates, to the city’s knowledge, would not have any medical or mental conditions, Arpin said.

Wapato is willing to take inmates for less than 30 days, but Arpin said that there are usually court hearings associated with those who face less than 30 days and the city wants to make this is cost effective.

“So we’re looking at [inmates] who have completed all their court hearings — there’s no shuffling about for any appointments or anything like that; they basically just need to complete their sentences,” Arpin said.

Wapato would charge $60 per day per inmate, which is nearly $40 cheaper than Bellevue’s lowest jail services contact with Issaquah.

Issaquah Jail charges $97 per bed per day, SCORE charges $109 per bed per day, with costs expected to increase to $120 in 2018, and King County Jail, the least used and most expensive option, charges $181 per bed per day.

In a theoretical cost comparison, assuming Bellevue housed five inmates for 30 days at each facility (using the 2018 price for SCORE), Arpin showed “significant” savings by switching to the Wapato Jail.

For example, the difference between housing five inmates for 30 days at Wapato versus Issaquah showed a savings of $67,525.

Should the city of Bellevue enter into a contract with Wapato Jail, the $60 per day per bed cost would not increase for three years.

There would also be no daily minimum bed commitment, unlike the city’s current contract for services with Issaquah Jail and SCORE.

Another advantage of Wapato, Arpin said, is that Wapato would transport the inmates to its facility. Bellevue would have to pay a $40 charge for transferring the inmate out of Wapato at the conclusion of the sentence.

Wapato would also provide routine medical, dental and other health care services and transportation to medical facilities if necessary.

The agreement with Wapato could be terminated without cause with a 30-day written notice.

Per day, Bellevue averages 15 inmates at SCORE, six at Issaquah and fewer than one in King County Jail.

“We don’t house too many in King County because of expenses,” Arpin said.

At a minimum of five beds per day, Bellevue’s daily rate of $97 per inmate for the Issaquah Jail, with no booking fee, has increased by 8 percent since its $90 rate in 2014.

At a minimum of six beds per day, Bellevue’s daily rate of $109 per inmate for SCORE, with no booking fee, has increased 21 percent since its $90 rate in 2014. Since its original price in 2014, the rate will have increased by 33 percent come January 2018, when the rate goes up to $120 per bed per day.

King County does not have a minimum daily bed commitment, but charges a $189 booking fee in addition to its $181 rate per inmate per day.

Issaquah bases its rates on the consumer price index whereas SCORE bases rates on actual jail expenses.

The Issaquah interlocal agreement does not have an end date; the interlocal agreement with SCORE runs through December 2018.

“One of the issues with Issaquah that we have is that they’re unable to accept inmates who have medical or mental health issues and they have limited capacity for female inmates,” Arpin said. “For SCORE again one of the bigger issues is the rates have increased 21 percent since we started with SCORE in 2014 and they will continue to increase.”

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