A look inside the Snohomish County Jail

Two Herald police reporters toured the Snohomish County Jail on Tuesday in anticipation of a federal review planned there later this year.

At least seven inmates have died at the jail since 2010. At least two of those deaths involve pending legal claims, and one internal investigation just wrapped up. County officials are particularly interested in whether medical care at the jail measures up.

Our tour guide was corrections Capt. Harry Parker, a former Alfy’s restaurant manager who’s been working at the jail since 2000.

The jail was about what you’d expect: antiseptic tunnels, people with neck tattoos staring from behind plated glass, and the smells of cleaning solutions doing their best to mask whatever the solutions have been used to disinfect.

The black round eyes of surveillance cameras are mounted to the walls and ceilings, hundreds of them. Doors slam, and the sounds of the slams echo.

Enough of that. Here’s some of what we learned from Parker:

  • Inmates’ outfits are color-coded. Most wear the green stripes. High-security inmates wear orange. Inmate workers wear red.
  • The jail houses about 1,100 inmates daily, maybe 1,250 if you count work release. About 400 inmates are there under contracts with surrounding cities and counties. Maybe a tenth of the inmates are women.
  • TVs are only in common areas. No TVs in individual cells.
  • Inmates get caught trying to bring in drugs at least every week, if not every day.
  • About 80 percent of inmates are in general population.
  • Jail staff anticipates changes within about a year to address mandates from the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. The jail already has policies guiding the confinement of people who identify as transgendered.
  • Inmates in high-security placements have their classifications reviewed every week. Each module, including administrative segregation and maximum security, has “outdoor recreation” areas. They’re pretty much concrete rooms with one wall partially made of metal grates, but they do have access to the fresh Everett air.

The federal review is supposed to be completed before the end of summer. We’ll be reporting on the results as they’re made available.

Our tour lasted about an hour and 15 minutes. As we walked into an outdoor vehicle bay on our way back to the reception room, even still surrounded by concrete and razor-wire but with blue sky above, I couldn’t help but take a deep breath.

It was good to be outside again.

More in Local News

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Big fire destroys building on Broadway in Everett

A person was rescued, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Luring attempt reported in Mountlake Terrace

The driver allegedly instructed a boy to get in the truck and help grab a scooter he was giving away.

Most Read