When people think of the living conditions inside a jail they usually envision large units surrounded by bars as is commonly depicted on television and in movies. There is almost no similarity between this image and what actually exists at the Snohomish County Jail.
The housing areas at Snohomish County Corrections are direct supervision modules. The typical module consists of 32-40 cells surrounding a common day room. There is a fresh air unit adjacent to each module. There are no bars separating the inmates from the officers as the officer is stationed inside the module with the inmates. Experience has shown that this type of supervision is actually safer for staff and inmates than having a physical separation. The reasons for this are many, but the main reason it is safer is because the officers are in control of the module and are constantly aware of what is happening in the unit. They have received specialized training in communication skills and in the operation of the module. Having an officer in the module helps identify potential problems that can be dealt with before they develop into a major issue.
The majority of the modules in the main facility house two inmates in each cell. Most units are designed to operate at a ratio of one officer for sixty-four inmates. There are units that do have a lower inmate to officer ratio. These units house inmates with psychiatric or medical problems, inmates who are classified at a higher security level, or inmates who have other special needs.