WENATCHEE, WA.-The Chelan County Regional Justice Center, Director resigns amid reports of financial and staffing problems.
County Commissioner Keith Overbay says the board accepted Kurt Lutz’s resignation on Monday. He says it was a mutual agreement.
“It wasn’t really a surprise, this is something that has been worked on over the last couple of weeks,” Overbay said. “We are identifying some areas in the jail that maybe need some attention. As we were working through the process it was kind of a mutual thing that we decided we needed to go another direction.”
Overbay and Commissioner Keith Goehner say the Commissioners were aware of some problems involving communications between Jail management and corrections staff that played a role in Lutz departure.
“The population is less than it has been in years past, but the type of inmate we’ve been housing has changed considerably,” said Goehner. “The way the jail was configured when it was first constructed is not the way jails are built today.”
Goehner says staffing at the jail is an issue, and the county continues to find ways to improve the facility.
“There are things we have done, most recently we have upgraded the radio system so that there is safety for the officers,” Goehner said. “It’s something we’re going to have to take a good, hard look at is what are the immediate needs that should be addressed and make sure we find a way to ensure the security and safety of everyone that’s in that facility.”
Commissioners also point to the jail’s finances as a cause for concern that led to Lutz resignation. Commissioners have hired Bill Larsen to replace Lutz as interim jail director. Larsen is a former commander with the Washington State Patrol and he also was employed by Chelan County PUD as the District’s Security Chief.
The Chelan County Regional Justice Center is a 383-bed adult correctional facility. Satellite buildings include a 42-bed minimum security facility and a 66-bed direct supervision minimum security facility that houses Work Release and Volunteer Inmate Worker participants.
Jail staff facilitates court appearances for inmates scheduled for Chelan and Douglas County Superior and District courts. Participation in Electronic Home Monitoring, Satellite Monitoring, and Work Release is available for court-approved, sentenced offenders. Basic medical, mental health and nutritional needs are met and provided for by support staff.
In addition to the Volunteer Inmate Worker program, other programs are: Religious Services and Counseling, AA and NA meetings, Educational services, Anger Management program, ESL classes, Fit2BFathers program, Getting It Right program, and release planning. Community partners assisting with these programs are The Literacy Council, WSU Extension, Washington State Department of Corrections, and Catholic Family Services.