OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- STATE ‑- JAIL COMMISSION ‑- JAILS ‑- STATE FUNDING OF LOCAL JAIL IMPROVEMENTS
The State Jail Commission may not suspend or withhold funding from a city or county for new jail construction or remodeling on the basis that the Commission has ordered closure of the existing jail facility of such city or county for failure to comply with mandatory state custodial care standards.
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February 11, 1982
Honorable George Edensword-Breck Director, State Jail Commission 110 East Fifth, Room 223 Olympia, Washington 98504 Cite as: AGLO 1982 No. 3
By letter previously acknowledged, you requested the opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
May the State Jail Commission suspend or withhold funding from a city or county for new jail construction or remodeling on the basis that the commission has ordered closure of the existing jail facility of such city or county for failure to comply with mandatory state custodial care standards?
We answer your question in the negative.
In your letter you referred to RCW 70.48.330, codifying § 5, chapter 276, Laws of 1981, the full text of which reads as follows:
"All cities or counties which accept funding for jail remodeling or new construction under this chapter shall certify to the commission that the facility to be built shall, upon opening, meet all mandatory custodial care standards adopted by the commission under RCW 70.48.050. The commission shall not make funding under this chapter contingent on compliance of the existing jail facility with standards adopted under RCW 70.48.050." (Emphasis supplied)
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We believe that this statute, and particularly the portion which we have underscored, is determinative of your question.
The obvious purpose of state funding, under chapter 70.48 RCW, is to facilitate the improvement, and upgrading, of local jail facilities. See, RCW 70.48.010. Of necessity, that objective presupposes, or assumes, that existing county or jail facilities are inadequate. Therefore, to deny funding for improvements because of the inadequacy of existing facilities would be, to say the least, incongruous. Moreover, with the enactment of § 5, chapter 276, Laws of 1981 (RCW 70.48.330),supra, it would also be contrary to the plain, clear and unambiguous words of the legislature itself.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.