Why are people in the jail pretrial?

Most individuals in the jail are awaiting trial after judicial review. More serious crimes usually take longer to process, and if someone has multiple charges in multiple jurisdictions, the time spent in jail can increase. Most people booked and held in custody have been charged with at least one felony offense.

Some individuals may have failed to appear for court in the past, resulting in a higher bail amount, which they cannot pay. The Superior Court currently uses an evidence-based, statistically valid pretrial risk assessment in making pretrial release decisions.

A small percentage of individuals being held in the jail pre-trial are awaiting competency restoration, which typically requires a wait for a bed at Western State Hospital.

Learn more about factors affecting the size of the jail population and their length of stay.

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1. What's in the Justice Project Implementation Plan?
2. Who is guiding the work of the Justice Project?
3. What is the timeframe for proposed projects in the draft Implementation Plan?
4. How is the work of the current Justice Project different than previous efforts and ballot measures?
5. How will the public be informed about progress toward implementation plan projects and goals? How will the county be transparent in tracking progress?
6. How can community members provide feedback, ask questions, and offer input on the Justice Project and Implementation Plan?
7. What funding is available for proposed projects in the Implementation Plan?
8. What efforts have already been made to increase and enhance services for substance use disorder, mental health, and emergency response in Whatcom County?
9. What incarceration prevention and reduction strategies are being implemented?
10. How are people with lived experience and BIPOC communities involved in this process?
11. Who will provide oversight for Implementation projects?
12. What is the plan for replacing the jail?
13. Will funding a new jail and behavioral health center limit or reduce funding for substance use disorder, mental health, and other wraparound services?
14. Who is in the Whatcom County Jail, and why are they in jail?
15. Why are people in the jail pretrial?
16. Can the County eliminate bail?
17. What criteria are used to determine jail size, and how many beds are being proposed?
18. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed location for a new jail and behavioral health and treatment facility?
19. What are the cost estimates for all the proposed facilities?
20. How was money from the 2004 tax (ballot measure) spent?