Sequim City Council OKs jail pact with county

The Sequim City Council unanimously approved a new jail contract with Clallam County at its Sept. 22 meeting that also means the city will drop its civil lawsuit against the county regarding inmate medical costs.

The new daily jail inmate fee will be $67 a day and the city will be charged one day for those who are "booked and released," according to the contract.

By Aug. 1 each year, the county will provide a new per diem rate effective Jan. 1 based upon past and projected operating costs.

"This has been a long, frustrating road for both (Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict) and I," interim city manager Bob Spinks told the council.

The contract includes an outstanding process for monitoring prisoner health care costs, he said.

Benedict told the council the issue of prisoners' health care costs has struck a nerve both across the state and the country.

Federal legislation is being developed to allow Medicare and Medicaid to pay counties for prisoners' medical care costs, he said.

This contract will reduce the county's jail costs by $200,000 which is "very significant" and the state also might provide additional funding, he said.

The contract was included as part of the council's consent agenda, a list of routine items approved by a single vote unless something is pulled out for further discussion.

The approval followed a short executive session to discuss the contract and make several changes that now have to be approved by the Clallam County commissioners. The contract was not on the commissioners' agenda this week.

Spinks said in an e-mail on Thursday that since the contract means the city will drop its lawsuit, additional paperwork is being prepared for approval when the county commissioners accept the contract.

Alice Hoffman, chief civil deputy for the sheriff's department, said in an e-mail on Thursday that the county hadn't received the signed contract yet from the city because the changes made by the Sequim City Council hadn't been included yet.

Clallam County administrator Jim Jones said the county is trying to treat everyone the same as far as formulas. Sequim hasn't had a jail contract for a couple of years, he said.

The county's contract with Port Angeles expires at the end of this year.

"Those two deserve a lot of credit for listening to each other and reaching a compromise that works for everyone," Jones said.

The county jail will be available for people held upon

arrest, awaiting trial and

serving jail terms, according to the contract.

If a person originally arrested for a felony is charged with a misdemeanor by the city, the city will pay the $67 per day rate retroactively.

If a person is arrested for a misdemeanor but charged with a felony at arraignment, then the county will pay the daily rate retroactive to booking.

The contract also states a person arrested on a warrant issued by another jurisdiction within the county shall be the responsibility of that agency.

Arrests made by city police on extraditable warrants by agencies outside Clallam County will be considered the county's responsibility.

If a person is being held on charges from more than one agency, then the per diem rate will be divided between them.

The county contracts with Olympic Medical Center for nursing care in Clallam County Jail and those costs are included in the per diem rate charged to the city.

The city and county agree to pool costs for outside medical care and divide those by the number of days served by each prisoner.

The city will have the right to pursue reimbursement from any medical insurance the person has such as private insurance or state-funded medical insurance.

The city will pay for transportation of its prisoners to the jail for initial booking. The city will pay the county $40 for each additional court appearance or $20 if it is video arraignment from inside the county jail.

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