Projected Number of Jail Beds

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On May 13, 2010, King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed providing cities with 150 beds in the King County Jail until 2020. This move, coupled with current and potential contracts that north/east King County cities have with other jurisdictions for jail beds, enabled Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to recommend ending the process of siting a new regional municipal jail to house misdemeanor offenders. For more information, please visit the King County Web site:

Projected Number of Jail Beds for the NEC

  • A brief look at the NEC’s misdemeanant inmates
    • The average misdemeanor inmate spends only a short amount of time in jail on a misdemeanor charge (e.g. Seattle misdemeanor inmates average 10 days in jail). Some people are booked and released within 48 hours. Others may spend up to a year serving a jail sentence.
    • People are most often booked in jail on misdemeanor charges related to property (e.g., theft), driving under the influence (DUI), traffic related charges, misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor domestic violence.   
    • Sixty-three percent of the inmates are pre-trial defendants.
  • Determining how much municipal jail space the NEC group needsCities in King County hired a consultant to create a long-term jail population forecast, as well as develop some preliminary long-term municipal jail housing options. The consultant estimates that in 2026, Seattle will need approximately 445 municipal jail beds and the other cities located in north and east King County will need roughly 200 beds. Thus, the NEC group estimates a 640-bed regional municipal jail will meet its needs for the next 20 years.
    • Read the executive summary
    • Read the full report

Municipal Jail Bed Space Projections

North & East KC cities167192
Total for NEC group554637
*Average Daily Population
  • Seattle’s projection assumes a 15 percent growth rate factor spread over 20 years (less than one percent per year) based on overall Seattle population growth; the other north and east cities assume a 25 percent growth rate.
  • The jail bed space projections are 15 percent higher than the average daily jail populations to allow for peaking factors (e.g., Saturday nights are busier than Tuesday nights; the jail population in August is higher than December, etc.).
  • The projections assume that eight to 10 percent of the people currently in jail will be diverted due to an increased use of alternatives to incarceration.