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Party In The Pokey To Open New Jail

May 3, 1986

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) _ For the opening night of the new Snohomish County Jail, it took a reservation and $20 to book a bed, as more than 100 upstanding citizens donned jail clothes and ate jail chow for an overnight party in the pokey to raise money for charity.

County officials wanted to make sure public money was well spent.

″The public paid for this jail,″ said County Executive Willis Harper. ″They should have a chance to find out what’s going on inside.″

Some who got the chance were county corrections director William B. Harper, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Dennis Britt and William McCall, the jail’s construction supervisor.

Proceeds from the party will be used to buy exercise equipment for the Snohomish County Department of Corrections Association.

The $15 million jail is designed to accommodate 277 inmates for sentences of up to one year. The interior can be re-configured to be expanded if necessary, with minimal disruption of existing operations, authorities said.

Earlier, as part of their training sessions in the new jail, the county’s 75 corrections officers and 75 support staffers also spent time in the cells.

Prisoners are to move in later this month.

A 1977 state law required the jail to be upgraded, and the county was sued in 1980 for overcrowding and inadequate care of inmates. The county signed a consent decree in 1982 promising to begin building a new jail.

One of the first people on the guest list for Friday’s party was Candy Cartwright, 38, a service station attendant from Machias. Her twin sister, jail custody officer Sandra Bennett, suggested the social occasion to her.

When she arrived, an officer accepted her $20 donation, and had her searched.

From behind a bulletproof glass window a security clerk made sure Ms. Cartwright didn’t carry a gun.

She had to surrender her belongings - a purse, book and running shoes - to corrections Officer Judy Young.

During a pat search, Ms. Young discovered a wristwatch - contraband, surely - and Ms. Cartwright was asked to check it through the property window.

Mug shots followed, and she received a picture pass with ″Get Out of Jail Free″ stamped on it. From there, she was led to a locked room, where she traded her jeans and sweater for a navy blue prison jumpsuit and plastic sandals - the official costume for this party.

She also got a toothbrush and toothpaste, towel, and an ″I Spent the Night in the New Snohomish County Jail″ T-Shirt. She toted her new belongings up to her cell in a cardboard bin.

Before joining the other guests, she was confined to her cell until she finished making up her bed.

Dinner was next - roast beef on the menu. After-dinner entertainment included two and a half hours of television. Midnight was bedtime - in locked cells.

Freedom was to come after breakfast Saturday morning.

Though impressed by the new jail, and looking forward to the experience, Ms. Cartwright admitted that more than one night would be too much of a good thing.

″When it’s fun, its fine,″ she said. ″I don’t think I’d want to come in again.″

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