What are the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed location for a new jail and behavioral health and treatment facility?

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) and Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force (IPRTF) are considering the advantages and disadvantages of three county properties as well as horizontal versus vertical designs for the construction of a new facility.   The Civic Center site was eliminated from consideration by the IPRTF because of limited space and high costs. These conceptual costs are only starting places of what would house the people currently incarcerated.  These numbers do not account for population growth, the removal of booking restrictions, or the addition of behavioral care beds and treatment facilities.  

At the Council’s June 13th Special Committee of the Whole meeting, Council approved a motion to select Labounty as the location for a new correctional facility (AB2023-304).

Jail and Behavioral Care Center Location

Civic Center (near Courthouse, located in parking lot across from current jail) 

Irongate (Division St.) 

Labounty (off Slater Rd. & I-5) 


1.3 acres developable

10.6+ acres, 5 acres developable

39+ acres, 16+ acres developable


Vertical (~7 stories)

Vertical (~5 stories)

Horizontal (1-2 stories)

Distance from Courthouse


9-12 minutes

12-15 minutes

Preliminary Cost Estimate

$207 million

$170 million

$137 million



Co-location with Anne Deacon Center for Hope (Crisis Stabilization Center)

Lower operating costs because of horizontal design; adaptable to changing needs over time; able to co-locate other facilities to create a campus (e.g., behavioral health services, housing services, etc.)

Show All Answers

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?