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Jail Costs May Put End To Misdemeanor Arrests

Thurston County’s small town police departments say they may quit making arrests in misdemeanor cases because of the cost.

Yelm, Rainier, Tenino and other towns without jails now pay $55 a day to house each person their police arrest at the county jail, and the tab is expected to increase to $75 a day Jan. 1. On top of that, there’s a $100 booking fee.

A few 90-day mandatory arrests, like the one required for a second drunken driving offense within five years, can deplete a small-town police budget fast, said Rainier Police Chief Randy Schleis said.

“There may come a point in the future when some cities will not be able to afford to lock up misdemeanor offenders,” Yelm Police Chief Glenn Dunnam said.

The potential bottom line? “A whole lot of people in this area who should be will not be going to jail,” Schleis said.

Already, Sheriff Gary Edwards said, in cases when local police cannot afford to make arrests, officers end up releasing misdemeanor offenders to relatives or driving them home.

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