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Between the Bars 

by Joel Smith & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & L & lt;/span & ast week the Spokane County Sheriff's Office launched a Web site that allows the public to access names and other information for every person currently in custody at the Spokane County Jail and at Geiger Corrections Center. The online roster, which at press time numbered 1,224 inmates, is updated about four times a day, according to Lt. Edee Hunt.





"Our staff here answer a lot of phone calls every day inquiring if people are in custody and, if so, what the charges are," says Hunt. The list, which is automated between two computer systems, she says, will "make better use of our resources."





The roster displays all inmates in alphabetical order, with their stay number and the facility they're in. Click on the first name, Randall L. Abraham, and you learn that he is a 42-year-old white male who arrived at the jail at 9 am on Christmas Eve. Abraham's bail was set at $10,000 after he was booked in Spokane County Superior Court for Third Degree Assault of a law enforcement employee. (If you don't know what that means, click on the provided link, which takes you to the legal description of the crime on a linked government Web site.)





If that's not enough to get an aspiring crime writer's pen flowing (what exactly happened to Abraham on Christmas Eve?), there are 1,223 other stories just like it to peruse -- quickly, easily and for free. Twenty-eight-year old Courtney Baker is in for 12 counts of Second Degree Assault and one of Kidnapping. What's the story? Ralph White, 54, is charged with 11 counts of Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (with a previous conviction).


The wealth of easily accessible information provides an unprecedented look at the jail system and the makeup of the area's criminal element -- and answers to questions you might not have known you had. Like: What percentage of inmates today are men? Women? White? Black? How many are in for property crimes, as opposed to violent ones? You can check it out for yourself at Spokanesheriff.org/jail.





BY THE NUMBERS


We took a random sample of 50 inmates listed on Spokane County's new Web site to glean some preliminary anecdotal statistics. Here's what we found.


Of our 50 inmates, 70 percent were in the jail; the rest were


incarcerated through Geiger.


80 percent were white or Latino (the Web site lumps the two


together). The rest were classified as black or American Indian/


Alaskan Native.


86 percent were men; 14 percent were women.


The average inmate age was 35 years old, with 18 the youngest and


56 the oldest.


The average bail was $40,059.


The average length of stay was 38 days.


-- Joel Smith
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