Uprising at Whatcom County Jail, Washington

Whatcom County Jail, Bellingham, Washington
October 24, 2012

Six inmates at Whatcom County Jail tore metal pieces off the ventilation system and used them to cause $15,000 in damage to their cell block.  After one hour, emergency response teams regained control. One of the inmates was treated for a leg injury in the hospital. According to sheriff deputies, the main complaint was a lack of time outside of cells.

The inmates smashed windows, flooded toilets, and pried locks off cell doors. They also attempted to pry into an exit door. Sheriff Bill Elfo said this was the first time in ten years that people engaged in coordinated efforts to damage the facility, and that they were able to dismantle the ventilation system because the concrete walls were deteriorating. The facility was over capacity at the time of the uprising, which took the housing unit out of use for 2 weeks for repairs.

Sheriff Elfo advocated for the construction of a new jail, and the county later purchased land to build one. In 2016 and 2017 voters rejected construction plans, and the county instead approved $12 million in repairs to the aging facility.


Riot breaks out at Whatcom County Jail, charges pending for“, KOMOcommunities youtube channel, October 25, 2012.

Dangerous inmates stage destructive riot at Whatcom Co. jail“, KOMONEWS, October 25, 2012.

Surveillance video depicts Whatcom County Jail riot,”  Kiro 7, October 25, 2012.

Until voters allow a new jail, this is what Whatcom County’s spending on repairs“, The Bellingham Herald, May 20, 2018.