First of all let me congratulate the fine officers and staff of the Whatcom County jail for quickly controlling the riot in our jail on Oct 24! They did a spectacular job of containing a situation that was very dangerous and potentially lethal to both jail staff and inmates.
Next, however, I must ask a very serious question. Why has the situation in our jail become so critical that dangerous inmates can actually dismantle the building and use a 2 foot-by-2 foot piece of metal vent cover as a weapon? It is no secret that our jail has needed replacing for over a decade, yet we are still dealing with an overcrowded jail that is structurally falling apart.
A big thanks to our new County Executive Jack Louws for making the construction of a new jail a top priority, and to the Whatcom County Council in coming together and finally deciding this project cannot be delayed any longer. Significant progress has been made and many are grateful for Jack's diligent work. I am not exaggerating to say that lives depend upon the building of a new, modern and adequately sized jail. Only good training and clear thinking kept the riot of a few days ago from being one where there was serious injury or loss of life. It goes without saying that prisoners should not be able to dismantle their cells in order to express themselves! We need to build a safe jail now!