The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention has reduced the number of inmates at its two jails in Kent and Seattle by 614 over the last few weeks in an effort to protect against a COVID-19 outbreak.
County Executive Dow Constantine directed jail officials last month to quickly and safely decrease the number of people who are in custody at all correctional facilities.
There are 1,285 adults in custody as of April 3, down from 1,899 on March 13. The number of youth housed at the Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle is 36, down from 43. The reduction is mostly the result of courts, public defenders, prosecutors, and law enforcement prioritizing jail beds for those who pose an imminent risk to public safety, according to a County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention news release.
No one in custody has tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention set up a website to provide the latest updates – including the number of COVID-19 tests and the daily population – along with answers to frequently asked questions.
Reducing the number of adults in custody by more than 600 in a little more than two weeks has provided the staff with more opportunities to promote social distancing as recommended by Public Health – Seattle & King County. The number of youth at the Children and Family Justice Center was already low enough that each youth has their own dorm room where the staff can provide individualized care, according to the news release.
Three staff members – two at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle and one at the Children and Family Justice Center – have reported testing positive for COVID-19. None of them reported being symptomatic while they were at work. Department leaders have connected each of the staff members with all available resources.
If an adult in custody tests positive, the staff will transfer them to a designated housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent where they will provide appropriate care in medical isolation using personal protective equipment. Jail Health Services will transfer them to a hospital if their needs exceed the staff’s ability to provide appropriate care.