KENNEWICK, Wash. -- When building the Benton County Jail, officials anticipated the potential growth for more inmates, and expanded the facility to offer more beds.
For the sheriff's office and many across the state, renting their available bed space to overcrowded jails has created a steady source of income. But with budget cuts to staff and the overall rough economic times, clients like the city of Olympia have canceled their contract with Benton County and that has effected the amount of money coming in.
"We actually have taken not necessarily any layoffs, but just haven't filled on several positions, just so that we wouldn't have to layoff personnel," says Captain Al Thompson.
According to the sheriff's office, about 4 to 5 positions with the agency have not been filled. Currently, the agency contracts with the Department of Corrections and the U.S. Marshall's office in renting their 730 beds.
Right now the jail has 200 available spots. The office could not provide an exact figure on how much they expect to save, but are optimistic that they won't have to make layoffs.