by Anita Khandelwal
The only humanitarian response to the COVID-19 crisis in the county jail is to reduce the number of people incarcerated there.
On Jan. 6, a person who had already been jailed for more than two weeks on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle waited in a King County Correctional Facility (KCCF) cell for an arraignment hearing in Superior Court. Shortly before the scheduled hearing, the court cancelled his hearing. Why? Because he had been jailed in a unit that also had a person who tested positive for COVID-19 and was being held in quarantine.
Had his hearing occurred, he would have been told what crime he was alleged to have committed and been able to seek his release. Instead, he languished in jail for another four days before he had his hearing, where the court agreed to release him to house arrest. But jail policy and COVID-19 again blocked his exit: The jail would not arrange for house arrest because he might have been exposed to COVID-19, so he waited another nine days before being released.Continue reading OPINION: King County Must Reduce Jail Population Immediately