Because of budget constraints, King County is closing the North Rehabilitation Center in Shoreline for good by Oct. 31.
To maintain current county-wide services, King County Executive Ron Sims said the county needs to cut expenses by about $52 million. Closing the North Rehabilitation Center (NRF) would save the county about $3 million.
NRF is a community-based minimum security correction facility located in Shoreline, where misdemeanor and traffic offenders can go to serve time by working on work crews for roads and food banks, said James Apa, spokesman for Public Health-Seattle and King County.
The center also provides drug rehabilitation for misdemeanor offenders. Since it opened in 1981, the center has admitted 85,891 offenders.
Upon its closure next week, about 50 male offenders will be transferred to other King County correctional facilities, either in downtown Seattle or Kent, Apa said.
NRF also employs about 60 people. These employees were given the opportunity to apply for other county positions, said Elaine Kraft, a spokeswoman in Sims’ office. It is too soon to tell how many employees will be retained, she said.
“This wasn’t a surprise,” said King County Council member Carolyn Edmonds. “The executive has been talking about the closure of NRF since I arrived on the council.”
Edmonds said another issue driving Sims’ decision to close NRF is the condition of the World War II era facility.
“The facility itself is in extremely poor condition,” she said. “I would consider it uninhabitable and a safety hazard to house prisoners there and the county doesn’t have the capital dollars to tear it down and rebuild it.”
NRF has provided some important services to this community, like work crews for LifeLine, the largest food distribution center for food banks, and road crews for the cities of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, Edmonds said.
The drug rehabilitation program and work crews will continue to be offered by the county, but from the downtown or Kent correctional facilities, Kraft said, but for work crews, “it’s likely the cost will go up.”
Both Shoreline and Lake Forest Park contracted with the county for work crews this year. The rise in cost may affect whether that practice continues in these cities.
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