Tacoma to send some suspects to Fife jail

In a cost-cutting move, the city of Tacoma has decided to send some of the people who get arrested in the City of Destiny to a new destination – Fife.

Beginning in 2013, Tacoma police will use Fife’s jail for booking people arrested on misdemeanor charges.

Currently Tacoma uses the Pierce County Jail to book everyone arrested inside the city limits. The county facility will still be used for those facing felony charges. Fife has 36 beds in its jail. If it cannot accommodate the additional inmates from Tacoma, some will be sent to other jails around the state that Fife contracts with for additional capacity. Tacoma City Council approved a 10-year interlocal agreement with Fife for jail services. It takes effect on Jan. 1. Tacoma’s exclusive contract with the county ends on Dec. 31. The contract will continue through 2016 on a non-exclusive basis. Tacoma City Council also approved a separate two-year agreement that will allow some eligible offenders to use Fife’s home monitoring system. This system is considered more sophisticated and cost-effective that those offered by the county through vendors in the private sector. Many local governments are utilizing home monitoring for low-risk offenders convicted of minor crimes, as this costs less than incarcerating people. Tacoma has spent, on average, $518,136 per month in 2012 to book and incarcerate about 400 arrestees in Pierce County Jail. The deal with Fife is expected to reduce this cost by at least 30 percent. The county has been charging Tacoma a fee of $212 for each defendant booked into the jail. The county charges $85 a day for people locked up in jail, and a fee of $84 for each prisoner escorted to court. Fife will charge Tacoma $20 for each booking and a $65 daily rate per prisoner. There will be no escort fees because Fife does misdemeanor arraignments by closed circuit video monitors. Fife charges $65 per defendant for video arraignment. Fife’s jail does not hold female inmates. Another jail will be used for women arrested in Tacoma for misdemeanor offense. Fife already has 23 agreements with various jurisdictions to provide jail services. In about six months Tacoma officials will review how the new arrangement with Fife is working. The new deal will have a financial impact on the county. About $10 million of the jail’s $51 million budget for 2012 comes from outside the county’s general fund. Of that $10 million, Tacoma paid about $6 million.


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