Hoquiam to re-open jail on April 1

The City of Hoquiam has announced that its jail will officially re-open on April 1.

Mayor Jack Durney cited the efforts of Police Chief Jeff Myers and state Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, to re-open the jail, which was shuttered in 2002 due to budget cuts.

The city is still in the process of completing its jail staff, but three police services officers are now on board, according to Durney, and so the city has decided to go forward with re-opening the facility. Police services officers Jerad Spaur and Kevin Noffsinger were sworn in at Monday night’s City Council meeting, joining Roy Kinney on the staff.

Over the last few months, Myers has overseen jail improvements, including increasing bed space, installing new video cameras and a new pass-code system and organizing a new inmate property processing center, among other renovations.

In August, the City of Hoquiam signed a contract with the state Department of Corrections to house parole-violating inmates, who, under a new statewide program called “Swift and Certain” spearheaded by Hargrove, must now serve mandatory jail time.

Under the new state probation model, felons on probation would have to serve between three and 30 days in jail if arrested for any probation violation.

In addition to the DOC contract, Durney notes, starting in April, the city will be able to house its own misdemeanor prisoners, as well.

Myers has said it will cost the department at least $534,000 a year to run the jail. The state will reimburse the city $80 per inmate, per day. Any extra funds from running the jail will be deposited into the city’s general fund. Any shortage of funds will have to be made up for by the department itself.

Durney said that city and Department of Corrections officials will mark the re-opening at 10 a.m. on April 1.

“As law absconders will soon learn, this is not an April Fools joke,” Durney said in a press release.

Durney thanked Sen. Hargrove, the DOC, city staff and the City Council in helping make the re-opening of the jail possible.

The mayor also pointed out that, despite state cutbacks, mill closures and the economic downturn, the city has been able to continue fullfilling the vision of its “Hometown Hoquiam” initiative.

“Re-opening our jail as the key element of our community policing effort fulfills this vision even further,” Durney said.