Security upgrades coming to Yakima County Jail

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Long awaited security updates are finally on the way to Yakima County Jail. Contractors are set to start work this month. The improvements will protect corrections officers and the community.

Jail security is a top priority anywhere you go.

And local officials are prepared to spend $7million, all in the name of safety.

"The type of people we're getting into jail, it's a much different population than when the jail was built," said Harold Delia, Yakima County Court Administrator.

Officials say the security upgrades are desperately needed, as more gang members and mental health inmates in our jail have created an increasingly violent atmosphere.

Contractors are ready to start repairs this month, to a jail that's been operating with technology from the '70s.

Currently each of the floors in the jail is open. They will soon have riot ports, which are doors that can be activated to block off sections in case of an outbreak. Officials say in extreme situations, officers will have the ability to spray gas into the blocked off sections to gain control of the inmates.

There will also be cuff ports, which will allow officers to hand cuff inmates before entering their cell if necessary.

And extra security cameras will help with visibility.

The second phase of improvements will replace dorm style cells with smaller units.The dorm cells hold up to 15 inmates together, leading to fights.

"As long as we have gangs and people with mental health problems being incarcerated in our jail, we're going to have that problem," said Delia. "So the job of a corrections officer today is much more difficult that it ever has been."

Officials say the Yakima County Jail wasn't built to house high risk inmates, yet that's exactly what it's become. It's resulted in more violent attacks on correction officers, making these security upgrades crucial.

They've also been working since this summer to replace a set of elevators that was leaking hydraulic fluid.

The $7 million bond will be paid back from the Department of Corrections budget.