WENATCHEE — Chelan and Douglas County commissioners agreed on a plan Tuesday to hold Douglas County inmates at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center temporarily until they can be picked up and transported to the Okanogan County Jail.
“It’s similar to what we do now with juveniles. When an arrest is made, a prisoner can be taken to Chelan County’s jail until transportation by Okanogan County can be arranged,” said Chelan County Commissioner Ron Walter.
In a cost-saving move, Douglas County Commissioners voted in October to house all people arrested by Douglas County deputies at the Okanogan County Jail. Douglas County does not have its own jail. Previously, about half of Douglas County prisoners were taken to Okanogan County’s jail and half to Chelan County’s jail in Wenatchee, depending on where the arrest was made.
Douglas County Commissioners say the move, which begins Jan. 1, will save the county about $200,000, possibly more, out of the county’s $1.1 million incarceration budget. The Chelan County jail charges $73.50 per bed per day. Okanogan County charges $53 per day.
The agreement to use the Chelan County jail as a temporary holding facility returns some money back to Chelan County and relieves some of the concerns Douglas County law enforcement officials have about the extra time, safety and manpower of transporting prisoners the extra distance to Okanogan County, said Walter. The prisoners will be held 24 hours or less, for which Douglas County will be charged $95 per person, he said.
Douglas County Commissioners Ken Stanton said the agreement includes the provision that Okanogan County will pick up the inmates at the Wenatchee jail and transport them north.
“We looked at every option and this makes the most sense for our deputies,” Stanton said, noting that it was Walter who brought the idea to him. People arrested in the north part of Douglas County will be taken directly to the Okanogan jail as they have in the past.
Walter said Chelan County commissioners and jail director Curt Lutz are looking at other ways to make up the loss of revenue from Douglas County inmates and avoid any layoffs at the jail. While the Chelan County jail fees are higher than Okanogan County, they’re lower than some other counties. Lutz is looking at ways to bring inmates in from those counties in need of a holding facility, he said.
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151