New jail to open this weekend

New jail to open this weekend »Play Video
PASCO, Wash. -- Franklin County is just a few days away from opening its new jail addition.

The project was paid for with the crime tax. We got a first look inside the new state-of-the-art facility that will begin holding inmates by the weekend.

Inmates at the Franklin County Jail are no strangers to tight quarters. And, truth be told, the decades-old facility was only built to hold about half the people it normally does.

"I had a count this morning and it was 202 inmates. So we've been running at double capacity for several years now," says Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim.

It's one reason why voters agreed to raise the sales tax three-tenths of a cent to pay for the almost $20 million expansion.

The brand-new facility will house two new courtrooms as well as the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. There are expanded locker rooms for guards and a high-tech master control room.

From this one-way glass room, guards will operate a computer monitoring system that might make Big Brother blush.

And with a barrage of high-tech security systems throughout the entire jail, it's going to make it that much easier for them to keep an eye on inmates and keep everyone safe.

Judy Smith comes to the Franklin County Courthouse to file her taxes.
She was one of a majority of voters who voted in favor of the crime tax to fund the jail expansion.

"They can't do anything without the community coming in and saying, 'We have to help,'" Smith says.

She can't wait to see the jail addition get put to use.

"They've got to start prosecuting these people and making them aware that you can't get a bypass anymore," she added.

The Sheriff is also hosting an open house to let everyone see what they paid for.

"We want to show it off to the public, and also it's an opportunity to thank the public for their support. They've given the courts and law enforcement the tools to help keep the community safe for the next 25 years," Sheriff Lathim says.

The city of Pasco contributed almost $4 million to the project as well.

Tours of the jail are offered Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. They are free to attend.