Some Offenses Require Jail Time

Notice: This Web site is no longer being updated.
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:

Required Jail Time for Misdemeanor Offenses

  • Cities need a municipal jail because police officers need a place to take people who are a danger to themselves and others.
  • Some misdemeanor offenses require jail time regardless of diversion and treatment programs.
    • State law requires that people sentenced for driving under the influence (DUI) serve jail time. For example, someone with one prior DUI conviction must spend at least 30 to 45 days in jail; someone with two or three prior DUI convictions must spend at least 90 to 120 days in jail. 
    • Domestic violence charges are a mandatory arrest and booking in jail.
    • A number of people booked in jail were previously diverted from jail or released from jail – but then failed to come back to court, resulting in arrest (in Seattle, for example, 33% had been previously diverted or released – but then failed to come back to court).
    • While the NEC group looks to other local city jails (such as Renton or Issaquah) or other county facilities, such as Yakima, as alternatives to King County’s jails, these facilities cannot guarantee replacement of the beds that will be lost at King County facilities. What’s more, in Seattle’s case, its police officers book almost 1,000 people per month at King County – that’s too many people to process through one of the local city jails or to take to Yakima.
    • While diversion and treatment are important, not everyone successfully completes the programs. In Seattle, for example, about 45 percent of defendants complete Day Reporting and 32 percent of defendants complete Community Court.  For more information on how Seattle manages its jail population, follow this link.
  • Alternatives to jail and treatment affect the size of the jail – but cannot replace the need for a jail.