11 People laid off from Yakima County Jail

11 People laid off from Yakima County Jail »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- More people are off the job at the Yakima County Jail and, more layoffs could be on the way. Jail costs climbed too high while fewer prisoners came through the door. Action News looked at whether the staff is being cut too thin for your safety.

The Yakima County Jail is down to bare bones on staffing. It has people worried about safety.

"More inmates could have riots and stuff like that,” said taxpayer Brandon Thwett. “You know less staff is less protection for other people."

Nine officers and two administrators were laid off this month. The cuts were made to help save a million-dollar shortfall in this year's jail budget.

"It makes me feel sad because I think we need the officers," said taxpayer Norma Mack.

The head of jail security wasn't allowed to speak on camera but insists the jail is still secure. Staffing is just at minimum requirements. The jail has been hurt by the expansion of other jails across the state.
It used to get money from other counties that didn't have room for all their prisoners. Yakima County would rent those beds, but those counties aren't sending their prisoners here as often and now the county is 18 million dollars short because of it.

"Why can't we get this money some other way,” asked Action News. “Is bed money really the only way we could make up for this?"

"We could raise taxes," said County Commissioner Mike Lieta.

But County Commissioners don't want to do that.

"Why don't we take some money from reserves and pay for this help this out a little bit so people can keep their jobs," asked Action News.

Yakima County Commisssioner Lieta said the county can only dip into reserve funds if they money can be paid back. It doesn't seem these beds will be bring in extra money any time soon putting more people out of work and fewer officers watching inmates.

But County Commissioners don't want to do that.

"Why don't we take some money from reserves and pay for this help this out a little bit so people can keep their jobs."

Yakima County Commisssioner Mike Lieda said the county can only dip into reserve funds if they money can be paid back. It doesn't seem these beds will be bring in extra money any time soon putting more people out of work and fewer officers watching inmates.

Yakima County plans to transfer three-million dollars from a road levy to help offset the loss at the jail.