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Determining Seattle's Municipal Jail Needs

Notice: This Web site no longer being updated.
Seattle is participating in a regional process to possibly site and build a new municipal jail for cities located in north and east King County.
For more information, please visit the North/East Cities Municipal Jail Planning Web site:

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Why Seattle Needs a Municipal Jail
Managing Jail Population
Some Offenses Require
Jail Time
Projected Number of
Jail Beds
Site Selection
Jail Design Options
Community Input & Outreach
Questions / Comments
Additional Resources

Managing Jail Population

  • Seattle has worked hard to minimize the number of people in jail.
    Seattle aggressively manages its jail population and actively looks at alternatives to incarceration and ways to divert people into community service and treatment.
  • While the number of people living in Seattle has grown by 8 percent over the last 10 years, the number of people in jail on a Seattle misdemeanor charge has dropped by 38 percent.


  • Key Factors:
    • Jail bookings have dropped by 24 percent (crime is at a 40-year low).
    • The average number of days spent in jail has dropped by 17% from 12 days to 10 days.
    • The Municipal Court has tripled its use of electronic home monitoring over the last five years from an average of 34 people to more than 100 people per day.
    • The Municipal Court has started a Day Reporting program for people who have a long history of failing to appear for court, and are not eligible for electronic home monitoring (for example, someone who is homeless). Without this program, these people would have to stay in jail.
    • The City offers treatment and housing for people who are repeatedly booked in jail; access to services and housing through Mental Health Court; as well as a Resource Center that refers people to housing, treatment, employment and offers on-site assessments for public benefits.
    • Community Court has reduced the amount of time participants spend in jail from an average of 19 days to six days by offering community service in lieu of jail. In March 2009, Seattle's Community Court was selected by the U.S. Dept. of Justice as one of only three courts across the nation to serve as a model for other jurisdictions.
    • Seattle will be working closely with treatment and housing agencies to ensure there are strong connections between the new municipal jail and services.