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.
The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.
Content Warning: This article contains raw, unedited video from the King County Jail in Downtown Seattle and detailed descriptions of violence and injuries.
If the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention’s (DAJD) official story about protester Eric Look’s July 25, 2020, arrest is to be believed, Look forcefully slammed his own face into a pre-booking counter at the King County Jail in Downtown Seattle, causing permanent damage to his two front teeth.
In fact, if one reviews the video of this incident, it appears — in line with the department’s version of events — that Look must briefly have defied the laws of gravity, apparently levitating for a split second before allegedly smashing his own face into the aforementioned counter.
A jail health services (JHS) employee at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an official Public Health – Seattle & King County letter the Emerald received from an anonymous source. The employee is the first JHS staffer to test positive.