PASCO -- The Franklin County jail is worn out.
Its once white ceiling tiles are disintegrating or missing where leaks from the deteriorating roof have soaked through.
Maintenance costs are increasing as the county attempts to keep a 24-hour, 24-year-old concrete facility operating while holding up to twice as many prisoners as the 100 inmates it was built to handle.
Its booking area is too small, and the kitchen lacks enough room to store the food for the more than 600 meals served each day.
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That's why Jail Capt. Rick Long and Sheriff Richard Lathim are hoping Franklin County commissioners will agree to ask voters to pass a 0.3 percent criminal justice sales tax measure in November. The county's law and justice council plans to ask the commissioners Wednesday to put the measure on the ballot.
Long and Lathim want to remodel the jail back to a 100-bed maximum security facility and build a 230-bed minimum- and medium-security addition immediately north of the existing jail, Lathim said.
Maximum security cells would hold one person, while medium would have about two and minimum four or more, Long said.
Franklin County voters have been asked twice to pass a 0.3 percent sales tax measure, but the proposal failed both times to win the simple majority needed to pass. The last time voters turned it down was in 2009.
In the meantime, Lathim said needs have become more pressing. The jail roof must be replaced, a $500,000 cost the county can't afford.
And a new jail is needed to maintain public safety, Lathim said.
"This is not about the comfort or the accommodation of the inmates," he said.
He said he doesn't want to be in the situation of having to release prisoners early because the jail lacks space. That could mean limiting who actually goes to jail, he said.
The jail hasn't gotten there yet, he said. But it has been close.
"We don't want to wait until we have a crisis," Lathim said.
The jail population has dipped slightly in the past two years and now averages about 197 prisoners per day, most of them serving felony sentences, he said. One day this week, the jail had 174 prisoners.
But its population is expected to rise as the county population grows. It already has doubled since the jail was built in 1986. Lathim said the proposed addition should meet county needs for the next 20 years, which is about the life of a jail.
When the jail population peaked at 239 prisoners about two years ago, Long said it was switched to a 23-hour lockdown, with prisoners in their cells 23 hours a day and in a shared community area with three or so fellow inmates for an hour daily.
During that hour, inmates can play cards, use a phone, take a shower or socialize. While in their cells, books and cards are their sole entertainment, with the radio possibly played if a corrections officer decides to do so.
Church services and meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous also are available, Long said.
The lockdown wouldn't change even with an expansion. Lathim said the lockdown has increased safety for officers and inmates, and decreased fights, medical costs and vandalism.
With the lockdown, there were about three fights between inmates last year, Long said. Before that, the number often reached that many in a week.
In the corner of his small office is a rolled-up set of plans that outlines what he envisions for the addition.
It's essentially a copy of the Cowlitz County jail.
The plans show a two-tiered building with cell blocks arranged in a wheel around a small area where the overhead master control booth hangs. An officer inside it would control the interlocked doors and monitor the cells by sight and video.
The top floor could hold Pasco Municipal Court and the sheriff's office, Lathim said, freeing up courthouse space.
City and county officials have said they want to keep the municipal court on the same campus as the jail and other courts to save money.
A remodel of the current jail would fix such problems as its inadequate number of holding cells. It has three, with only one for holding more than one person. As many as 12 people sometimes have to scrunch into that cell meant for six, Long said.
In 2010, the county jail booked 4,508 people, an average of 12 per day, Lathim said.
Long said a new addition would use architecture and technology to maximize efficiency and keep staffing low. Staff salaries are the biggest part of the jail's operating costs.
The jail currently has seven corrections officers on day shifts and as few as four on night and swing shifts, Long said.