SEATTLE (AP) – Public defenders and corrections officers describing inhumane conditions in King County jails are asking the county to stop booking people awaiting charges on nonviolent felony offenses amid staff shortages and the latest COVID-19 case surge.
The Seattle Times reports the proposal, which is opposed by the county prosecutor’s office, is an effort to further reduce jail populations.
In March 2020, County Executive Dow Constantine ordered corrections officials to stop jailing people accused of most misdemeanors.
Average jail populations fell from about 1,900 to around 1,350, where they have remained.
But officials say the omicron-fueled coronavirus surge has had profound impacts on the county’s jails downtown and in Kent.