I took a tour of the Whatcom County jail last week to determine if the jail is as worn out as the staff would like us to believe. The jail facility seems to be cobbled together in small ways to solve small local issues, mainly creating more secure jail space out of closets and storage rooms; and cobbled together in large ways, mainly creating more space for the sheriff’s current basement offices. The creative changes seem to be working, but they create some structural and personnel safety issues. I went into the padded cell area and punched the padded wall covering. The padding is getting old and is a lot harder than it used to be, I wouldn’t punch it as hard a second time. Unlike modern jails, which have a fenced area of refuge for inmate evacuation from the jail in the event of a major disaster, all of our inmates and jail personnel will end up in the city street surrounded by available deputies. In the chaos of the evacuation I wonder if this is a secure situation. It is clear to me that we need a new jail. Vote yes on the jail sales tax increase!