Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has asked the state to investigate why three Yakima County Jail inmates were released into a downtown Seattle parking lot.

Durkan received a video of the April 8 incident from a Seattle resident last week showing Yakima County employees releasing three people to the parking lot under Interstate 5 near James Street. She contacted the state Department of Corrections (DOC), said Durkan spokesman Mark Prentice.

In a letter to Durkan, DOC Secretary Steve Sinclair said the people released were returning to King County after serving time at the Yakima County Jail for violating the terms of their DOC community supervision. The employees who conducted the drop-off were from the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Sinclair said.

When asked about the incident, the Yakima County Jail said it was not standard practice to conduct releases in a parking lot and that it would look into why this occurred, Sinclair said.

The individuals were supposed to have been dropped off at the King County Jail, where they could receive assistance with transportation and check back in with community custody officers, said DOC spokesman Jeremy Barclay. The three people, whose names were not released, were likely from around King County, he said, although he wasn’t sure.

“This is not what we had agreed upon [with Yakima County]. We’re talking about individuals who are not resource-rich typically, and we want them to be successful in re-entering communities,” Barclay said. “Success is not gotten from dropping someone off on a street corner.”


Ed Campbell, director of Yakima County’s department of corrections, said the county requests pickup and drop-off locations from jurisdictions they contract with. Campbell said they had difficulty with a drop-off point in Seattle and moved the location after receiving complaints it was difficult to get individuals to a bus station.

After hearing Durkan’s concerns, the Yakima County Jail agreed the DOC’s community justice center in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood would be the new drop-off point.

“The concern is understandable and an alternative drop off location was provided and is being used,” Campbell said in an email. “The individuals transported were out of custody and being returned to the westside, where they reside.”

People under community supervision live in the general community under conditions such as reporting to their community corrections officer. Violating a court-ordered condition can result in jail time.

If the King County Jail is full, people from the county may be sent to jails elsewhere, Barclay said. The DOC has contracts with jails around the state, including Yakima.

The mayor has asked the DOC to review the incident, which will also be examined by the governor’s Statewide Reentry Council.