Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 Meeting notes with Thurston County Sheriff Snaza

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Meeting notes with Thurston County Sheriff Snaza

We started our conversation with some background of the Thurston County jail and past procedures. In 1999, Sherriff Edwards had to turn away prisoners from the County Jail. The jail was running at maximum capacity and was experiencing overcrowding and safety issues. Thurston County Sheriffs Office currently houses Misdemeanors and Felonies. The new jail on the West Side of Olympia, the Account Restitution Center (A.R.C.) was designed so our current County Jail would run simultaneously with the A.R.C. The older jail facility would be their intake and court and transitional population. The A.R.C. would then house the inmates who were Convicted Felons or Misdemeanors and who were going to be housed a year or more.
In 2003 or 2005 (He couldn't remember the year off the top of his head) the A.R.C. was voted down by Thurston County voters.  Our County Commissioners decided to  pass it through anyway making it possible for the A.R.C. to be built.
With our currently economy and decline in jail population He states that  Thurston County now cannot afford to run both jails. The A.R.C. was designed to be built in 3 stages, the second stage was designed to have two more pods ($14 Million more dollars and 40,000 more square feet. With the second phase the County would need an additional 40 deputies; “we do not have revenue to run this.”
On July 16, 2011, Sherriff Snaza mentioned he was going to have a meeting with the consultant to decide how to transition and utilize the new A.R.C. jail. (We have not heard back the results from this meeting) Sheriff Snaza's focus is that, “our jurisdictions NEED now to work together.” TCSO’s budget helps to pay to incarcerate Felons. “Nisqually is using the economy and their ability to obtain Federal Grants to build their own Regional Jail. They are also using their position to offer less expensive housing to increase their marketability.”
Sheriff Snaza believes “(immediate neighbors) should be concerned with property taxes”. Since there will be more homes being built in the near future, property taxes go up however, the potential selling of homes will go down now that it will be near a jail.  If local agencies pay Nisqually to house their inmates – that money will go to the Tribe and not our economy.
Sheriff Snaza wonders what Standard Operating Procedures that the Nisqually’s will operate with? Hiring, training procedures, and more? TCSO Correction officers follow National Standards will the Tribe also follow National standards?  Currently the Nisqually Tribe officers are Bureau of Indian Affairs certified and then they receive Criminal Justice Training Commissions (WSCJTC) equivalency. Again, Sheriff Snaza questioned “what exactly are the Tribe’s standards?”
Sheriff Snaza stated that if an inmate was to escape from a Sovereign jail, the situation and apprehension of the inmate it immediately would become TCOS ‘s responsibility. An escape violation or attempted escape is a Felony offense.
herriff Snaza also wonders if we were given any notice of the Tribe’s plans? Will the Tribe pay Assessor’s tax on the parcel, will Thurston County be collecting taxes and will the Regional Jail benefit Thurston County? Sherriff Snaza suggested looking more closely at Fort Lewis.
“Will the Regional jail house only Misdemeanors or house Felons and plus one year or more?”  “What study did the Nisqually’s use to show increase of their jail population?” “If the Nisqually’s can justify filling 576 why can’t he? What type of prisoners are they truly going to be housing and what are they going to do with their Felons?
Sheriff Snaza concluded our discussion stating,
“I want to make A.R.C. work for our County and all of our agencies to benefits citizens of Thurston County and to provide the best services possible.”

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