New Thurston County jail to be occupied by end of August

The Accountability and Restitution Center will be occupied by the end of this month, Thurston County officials say.
The Accountability and Restitution Center will be occupied by the end of this month, Thurston County officials say. Staff photographer

More than five years after construction of the Accountability and Restitution Center, county officials say the new Thurston County jail will be occupied by the end of August.

Undersheriff Tim Braniff said the Sheriff’s Office has spent the last few months hiring corrections deputies, making sure the facility’s systems are functional, and ensuring that the ARC will be ready to hold the county’s inmates.

“We need to make sure that every component, every aspect of the facility is operational,” Braniff said.

The county’s Board of Commissioners and Sheriff John Snaza officially reached an agreement Jan. 30 to move into the ARC on. At a press conference, the elected officials signed a letter of intent promising an additional $111,879 in the 2015 corrections budget, bringing the budget up to $17.98 million.

Braniff said county officials aren’t releasing the official ARC move-in date for security reasons, but a move-in date has been selected.

“What I can say is that we’ll be in there no later than the end of August,” Braniff said.

Planning for the move has taken a great deal of interagency coordination. Following the move, local law enforcement agencies will transport suspects to the ARC, located at 3491 Ferguson St. SW in Tumwater, instead of the current jail at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW in Olympia.

Inmates will need to be transported back to the Lakeridge Drive facility for some court dates, but many appearances are conducted via video conferencing.

Corrections staff also are finalizing procedures for running the jail, which will operate under a “direct supervision model,” Braniff said.

The general population will reside in large, open dormitories, each holding 68 inmates and monitored 24 hours a day by one deputy.

“We want to make sure that we have a plan in place, that it will be followed and that it will work,” Braniff said.

The letter of intent signed in January also promises to earmark $283,000 in the general fund for corrections in 2015.

Of that, $25,000 will cover move-in costs, and an additional $25,000 will cover “unforeseeable needs” following the move. Another $50,000 will cover medical, lab and dental costs.

An additional $183,000 would be available in 2015 and 2016 if overtime costs or leave buyouts exceed a certain amount.

Because revenue from the jail’s commissary has decreased in recent years, the $78,000 salary of one corrections accountant was moved to the county’s budget this year, and a second one will be moved in 2016.

Amelia Dickson: 360-754-5445