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County will not reactivate Ridge
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon announced May 21 that the county has ended exploratory planning to reactivate the 183-bed Ridge Corrections facility to help ease state Department of Corrections prison overcrowding.
Reardon stated that two months of activation efforts, including property assessment, requests for contractor bids and employee recruitment, have been hampered by an inability to hire personnel to staff the facility adequately.
Community safety cannot be compromised, Reardon said. We could not reopen the Ridge without a full staff contingent for both the county jail and the Ridge.
In March, Reardon proposed exploring interim use of the facility to Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire, to ensure that no offenders would be released due to a lack of contracted bed space.
Under the proposal, the county would have moved some of its minimum security inmates to the Ridge facility near Arlington, and up to 170 DOC community custody violators would have been housed in the Snohomish County Jail in Everett.
Strict standards, including background checks, psychological testing and polygraphs, have made correctional hiring difficult nationwide.
The county and state deployed statewide resources in an attempt to recruit the number of qualified applicants necessary to staff the Ridge. More than 250 recent potential employee referrals to the county resulted in only one hire.