Overcrowded M’ville jail lacks luxuries of some others

MARYSVILLE – A lot of stereotypes people hear about cushy jails are broken at the one in Marysville.

There is no weight room. They don’t even get to go outside.

They don’t have roomy cells with big-screen TVs. There’s one TV with few channels for the entire population of up to 50 inmates. Members of the Marysville Police Citizens Academy toured the facility recently.

Custody Cpl. Michael Saint Denis said the jail was built in 1987 to hold 15 prisoners.

“They haven’t added a brick,” he said, referring to how cramped it can get now. Sometimes prisoners sleep on the floor.

Cmdr. Wendy Wade said that is the one thing needed when a new jail is built.

“More beds,” she said.

Unlike some jails, this one has no kitchen. Inmates eat frozen dinners made by other inmates at Airway Heights near Spokane. The meals cost about $1 each. If inmates don’t like what’s being served, they can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Saint Denis said inmates can stay in the Marysville Jail for up to 90 days. Most are addicts, but others stay for misdemeanors such as shoplifting, trespassing or driving under the influence.

While the facilities may not be the best, the jail does have a reputation for treating its inmates well.

“People come to us broken,” Saint Denis said. “We have to try to fix them – get them out the door in better shape” than when they came in.

Wade said the jail can seem “laid back” to some, because it is not there to punish people.

“We want to keep them as calm as possible,” she said.

Other things needed in a new jail, Wade said, include a separate booking and release area. Currently they have to take turns in the shared area. There also aren’t enough beds for female inmates. “It’s like a closet,” Wade said.

Custody officers have to decide if they can handle any more prisoners before accepting them to the jail. Everett police recently dropped off a man with no shirt at the Albertson’s parking lot. “That’s frowned upon but it happens,” police said.

Custody officers also spend much of their time driving prisoners to different facilities. If an inmate becomes too out of control they can be put into a wrap for up to four hours or taken to another facility.

“It’s like adult day care,” Saint Denis said.