Yakima Inmate Captured; One at Large

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Another escapee from the Yakima County Jail has been caught. Yakima police say a tip led officers to surround a house today where Gianni Alaimo surrendered.

Of the nine inmates who escaped Nov. 26, only one — Luis Albert Soto — remains at large.

The escapees used a mop handle to poke a hole in the ceiling and make their way to the roof where they used bed sheets as a rope to slide down. Five were captured within minutes and two were captured the next day.

It was the largest escape in the history of the downtown jail, which houses about 800 inmates, including scores being held under contract with other jurisdictions.

Five were captured immediately and two were apprehended last month after a tip led authorities to their hiding place in a relative's home. Still at large is Soto, 38, of Toppenish, facing trial Jan. 3 on a second-degree theft charge.

The jail's inmate population should be limited to 700 but sometimes exceeds 900, leading to increased tensions, inmate assaults and suicide attempts, said Wayne Johnson of Teamsters Local 760, which represents the jail's 244 guards and clerical staff.

The main jail and its adjacent annex were designed for 574 inmates, but more were added in the 1990s by placing second-level bunks on what had been single beds. More than 60 correctional officers typically cover each of the three eight-hour shifts.

Beds were added in an effort to generate revenue by renting jail space to other agencies, especially after a test run in 1995 at the request of King County while the Regional Justice Center was being built in Kent.

The program has made millions of dollars for the county, but the jail has not been upgraded with additional toilets, showers and kitchen facilities to accommodate the larger population, Johnson said.

"They need to put money back into it like you would maintenance for your vehicle," he said.