Broken elevator triggers weekly Spokane Co. Jail lockdowns

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by HAYLEY GUENTHNER & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 10:09 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--The Spokane County Jail went into lockdown on Tuesday after an ongoing elevator problem. The problem had been an issue for years and things were getting worse in 2014, according to jail officials.

Officials said the elevators break up to twice a week on average. The jail goes into lockdown when the elevators break down.

Officials said the elevators were old and overused.

“These never get a break. Regular businesses are closed during the nighttime hours. We're more like a hospital. Ours go 24 hours a day,” said Lieutenant Mike Sbarber.

KREM 2 News did a story on the elevator problem in 2010. Officials said not much had improved since then.

READ: Elevators at Spokane County Jail routinely break down

“We are trying to keep pace with the constant use of them but they are 29 years old and they're breaking,” said Sparber.

The elevators were used for everything from meal delivery to medical checks to guards transferring inmates.

“Quite frankly, these are the spine of the jail, when they go down it cripples our whole organization,” said Sparber.

The jail’s most dangerous inmates were housed on the sixth floor. KREM 2 News learned there are two flights of stairs per floor. That meant if there were to be an emergency on the sixth floor it would be 12 flights of stairs away from help at the main office.

“I can't predict the future and say someone will get hurt, but there's a good likelihood,” said Sparber.

Officials said the elevators are beyond repair.
 
“They've about repaired every piece they can repair on them. It's time to replace these ones or some other solution,” said Sparber.

Officials said another solution would be to get a new jail entirely. They said there was a master plan in the works. Jail staff was set to go before the Board of Commissions at the end of May to get an update.
 

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