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The Skagit County Community Justice Center, a stone building with central entryway. Front is water feature and stone gabion
Skagit County Community Justice Center

Dual Healing for Custody and Officer Wellness

Client

Skagit County

Project Location

Mount Vernon, WA

Area

100,500 SF

Completion

2017

The support of this facility by the community was shown by the hundreds of citizens that attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony to both celebrate and tour the facility. The importance of how the environment directly affects inmates and staff alike was a thread in every conversation from early programming through final completion of construction in the interest of creating better outcomes for all.

The surrounding scenery of the Pacific Northwest created a palette of warm materials and engaging colors to soften the facility that so frequently focuses on security and maintenance. Wood trellises and bright colors identify the department entrances and cast shadows from the line of natural daylighting above to activate the long central corridor.

The central tenet of programs for people in custody ensures that they receive quality care while in custody and, through re-entry planning, familiarizes them with services available in the community and encourages them to seek continued care through community medical and mental health professionals. Flexible program classrooms are equipped for teaching, small group discussions, computer technologies, and more.

Staff and officers spend much more time working in the facility than the average stay of a person in custody. The physical environment – acoustics, artificial light, cold finishes can add to what is already a stressful working environment and, in turn, impact the ability of staff to provide services and programs in a thoughtful and professional manner. The facility includes areas for rest and respite both throughout the building and on a staff patio in support of wellness and stress relief. Safe and supportive environments for staff allow them to better focus on the individual care of people in custody, leading to a high satisfaction in work and life balance, reduced officer turnover, and minimizing sick time.

Award

2016 Award of Merit

Academy of Architecture for Justice

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