The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a technical assistance grant from the United States Department of Justice’s National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to assist the County Council’s Jail Planning Task Force with its mission of assessing jail capacity and design needs as well as offer recommendations for improvements to the criminal justice and mental health systems that have the potential to reduce the need for incarceration and costly jail operations.
Sheriff Bill Elfo said: “Jails are expensive to build and operate. We must ensure that planning for a new jail takes into account not only the need for a ‘right-sized,’ properly designed and appropriately sited facility, but also pursue a system-wide approach that maximizes alternatives to incarceration and mental health options. The National Institute of Corrections has cutting edge expertise and their recommendations should be of great assistance to the Jail Planning Task Force, Council and the Executive.”
NIC staff will be in Whatcom County for three days next week and will discuss their work at a community presentation on Wednesday, August 31 from 9 a.m. to noon. This presentation will not replace the series of community meetings the Jail Planning Task Force anticipates holding in the near future.