A new feature on the county Web site could end up saving taxpayers thousands of dollars.
The Snohomish County Jail has made its inmate register available online.
The electronic register allows anyone with Internet access to find out who has been booked into jail in the past 24 hours, on what charge and how much bail is for the inmate.
The list is updated every hour between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., jail director Steve Thompson said.
"It is a real-time look at who’s in custody, who’s been booked and who’s been released," he said.
With the site available to anyone, nosey neighbors can check on each other and families can rule out jail if a loved one is late for dinner.
But the site was designed primarily for police agencies, Thompson said.
He predicts that the online feature will cut costs for departments that contract with the county for jail services.
Police will be able to monitor who is being held in the county jail for crimes committed in their jurisdictions.
Often times a person is arrested in a city other than where the crime was committed.
"Until we get the jail bill we may not know and in some cases we could have moved them," Mill Creek Police Chief Bob Crannell said.
Mill Creek contracts for jail services with Okanogan County, where it costs $20 less a day to house an inmate.
"Our community pays its own jail bill. If I can find a cheaper place to hold prisoners, I’m going to use it," Crannell said. "This is going to help me do that."
Crannell estimated that housing inmates in Okanogan County could save the city about $35,000 this year.
The online register also will help cities get moving on the court process sooner. City prosecutors and public defenders can know immediately what cases will be coming their way.
"It will save scads of time," Lynnwood Cmdr. Don Cirino said. "Instead of sending e-mails out to the prosecutor, the public defender, investigations — these huge lists— we just give them the Web address."
The feature also can aid with investigations, Lynnwood Cmdr. Paul Watkins said.
"We can see if a suspect of ours is incarcerated and get a detective up there in a timely manner to contact a suspect," he said.
Thompson said the online register is not part of the strategy to ease overcrowding at the jail.
"It can’t hurt though. I think it could contribute to fewer prisoner days here," he said.
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or email@example.com.
To check who is in the Snohomish County Jail visit www.co.snohomish.wa.us/jail/index.htm.