Task force formed to assess Jackson County’s criminal justice sy - KCTV5

Task force formed to assess Jackson County’s criminal justice system

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A Jackson County Detention Center task force has been formed to assess the county’s criminal justice system and make recommendations to reduce overcrowding, increase efficiency and improve safety. (KCTV5) A Jackson County Detention Center task force has been formed to assess the county’s criminal justice system and make recommendations to reduce overcrowding, increase efficiency and improve safety. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A Jackson County Detention Center task force has been formed to assess the county’s criminal justice system and make recommendations to reduce overcrowding, increase efficiency and improve safety.

“The HOK study left no doubt that a substantial investment is needed,” Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. said Tuesday “I want to make it clear that I am not opposed to a new jail, but I have yet to be convinced that we need a bigger jail.”

The task force will be asked to analyze current maintenance, staffing costs, current and future capacity needs, as well as regional cooperation, recidivism prevention measures and alternatives to incarceration.

The 14-member panel will also look at new facility construction versus current facility renovation.

Understanding these issues will help the task force make recommendations to Jackson County that outlines short and long-term sustainability options, White said.

Over the course of six months, the jail task force will conduct its analysis and provide information to White and the county legislature. At the conclusion of six months, they will provide a comprehensive report on its findings and recommendations.

“I look forward to serving as a co-chair of the Jail Task Force and ensuring that our County dollars are property invested,” said John Fierro, President/CEO of the Mattie Rhodes Center. “There will be tough decisions along the way, but I know we will be successful as long as we’re working together to ensure the safety of our corrections officers and detainees.”

On Wednesday, White recommended the largest budget increase in Department of Corrections history. It includes a $15-$20 million bond issue to fund emergency safety and security repairs to the jail and increasing the starting wage for corrections officers to $15/hour.

When White took office two years ago, Jackson County paid new corrections officers one-third less than that of its neighboring counties. His proposal aligns the county with the market pay rate.

Additionally, he is recommending funding to support a consultant, who will conduct a master plan and help oversee the work of the jail task force. Members will participate in the consultant selection process.

“We appreciate all the input from all our partners in the community,” said Joe Piccinini, Department of Corrections Director. “We’re looking forward to working with the Jail Task Force and making progress to enhance the safety and security of our facilities now and in the future.”

“The public deserves a voice in this too,” White said. “Before we make such a significant investment of taxpayer dollars, we must engage our community in this discussion along with key task force stakeholders.”

The public will have the opportunity to participate in open dialogue during listening sessions to be announced at a later date.

Citizens are encouraged to submit their questions, concerns and ideas for the task force to consider by calling 816-881-6461 or emailing jailtaskforce@jacksongov.org.

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