King County's alternatives to incarceration programs might have helped contribute to a 5.7 percent reduction in the number of inmates held in secure detention by King County last year – the first actual decline in average daily population since 2003. Alternatives to incarceration have helped contain the high costs of secure detention.
"After only a few years, our policy direction to focus on recovery rather than incarceration is starting to pay off in a very tangible way," said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who chairs the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. "Society benefits in many ways, from lower costs to lower crime rates, when alternatives to incarceration such as treatment for substance abuse and mental illness keep people from becoming involved in the criminal justice system. We are helping to break the cycle in and out of jail."
New numbers reported by the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention show that the average daily jail population (ADP) for the King County Jail and the Maleng Regional Justice Center, while held in check and below forecasts in recent years, actually fell from 2007 to 2008.
According to the department's Detention and Alternatives Report:
The average ADP for secure detention was 2,324 in 2008, down from 2,465 in 2007 for an actual decline of 5.7 percent. That number is also 10 percent below the ADP of 2,584 that had been forecast for this year.
Total jail bookings were down by about 10 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, led by a decrease in bookings by the Seattle Police Department, and also below the annual forecast target.
Juvenile ADP dropped from 95 to 90, below the forecast target ADP of 110.
Programs such as Drug and Mental Health Courts and the County's re-licensing program provide opportunities for offenders to receive assistance outside of the County Jail. The Community Center for Alternative Programs (CCAP) saw its average daily enrollment increase by 10 clients in 2008, while 23 more entered work crew programs.