New inmates filling up beds at Yakima County Jail

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima County is slowly making headway toward filling its jail. New inmates from Grays Harbor will take up some empty beds.

The latest deal could bring more than $1 million, but it doesn't come close to recovering what it took to get into the jail business.

It's not the final solution, but it's a start. The state's Department of Corrections could send 75 women to the Yakima County Jail.

"This contract is one piece that will continue to move us in the correct financial direction, helping our Department of Corrections," said Yakima County Commissioner Kevin Bouchey.

Yakima County's jail director said 30 new inmates will be coming over the next six weeks. If the number gets to 75, the county would get $1.6 million for the year. However, there's no guarantee that many inmates will make it.

"They're in the proverbial driver's seat as far as how many numbers there are and how fast that transition occurs to Yakima County," said Bouchey.

Yakima County has struggled for years to make money off its jail system. Right now, it has five contracts to hold inmates for other jurisdictions. Talks are going on with three more.

One goal is to ultimately open the jail at the fairgrounds that still remains idle.

"Would it be safe to say it would offset the costs that you guys lost?" KIMA asked.

"Well, we're heading that direction with this contract with the state of Washington," said Bouchey. "It doesn't get us there completely."

Bouchey said the downtown jail can't cover its operations or debt unless it's full - along with a third of the fairgrounds facility.

There are about a hundred empty beds at the moment. No one is sleeping in any of the 300 beds at the fairgrounds.

Yakima County will push for more state money to hold inmates during the next legislative session.