The Spokane County Jail, which opened in the mid-1980s, is beginning to fall apart with major repairs needed in the kitchen and elevators. The problems comes as the county continues to consider what to do to house expanding inmate population and provide better programming to help less violent inmates turn their lives around.
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An officer processes a prisoner on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at The Spokane jail’s sally port in Spokane, Wash. The staging area for prisoner processing can get crowded on busy nights for officers, leading to backups and long wait times.
Jail Lt. Mike Sparber looks at the carousel used to hold prisoners’ possessions — clothing and materials — during their time the Spokane County Jail. Similar to a dry cleaning carousel in design, Sparber said the aging carousel frequently breaks down, causing a backup in processing prisoners.
A Spokane County jailer speaks with prisoners on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The jail has so many street gang members that jailers have to be careful not to let rival gang members out of their cells at the same time or a fight will erupt. Jailers are frequently injured trying to break up the fights, Lt. Mike Sparber said. The jail reported 152 incidents last year, a 58 percent increase over 2011. But inmates have to be let out of their cells three times a week so they can shower, exercise, make phone calls, meet visitors or work with their attorneys, according to state law. The answer has been rolling lockdowns that keep inmates confined to their cells for most of the day.