MOUNT VERNON — Hunched over a desk in a dimly lit office, District Court Judge David Svaren flipped through files and studied rap sheets.
Cost of Justice
On an average day at the Skagit County Jail, corrections officers struggle to find room for the estimated 200 inmates in a building meant to house 83.
The close proximity causes tempers to flare; some inmates sleep on the floor just feet from toilets that occasionally overflow.
But the challenges of an overcrowded jail reach deeper than the jail cells. They touch everyone from the attorneys representing their clients and the corrections officers supervising the inmates, to the judges and citizens on the street, who may be at risk from criminals who should be in jail but aren’t — there’s no room.
While most agree it’s time for a new jail, questions remain about much it would cost, who will pay for it, and how it would be staffed.
In a five-part series, the Skagit Valley Herald and goskagit.com will examine the jail overcrowding through interviews with attorneys, judges, law enforcement, corrections officers, inmates and city and county officials, and interactive graphics, photo galleries, videos and more.