Debate over direction of Jackson County Jail divides legislature - KCTV5

Debate over direction of Jackson County Jail divides legislature

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The Jackson County Legislature has lost its patience when it comes to the Jackson County Detention Center. When it comes to who is responsible for the jail’s problems and progress, there was a lot of finger-pointing. (KCTV5) The Jackson County Legislature has lost its patience when it comes to the Jackson County Detention Center. When it comes to who is responsible for the jail’s problems and progress, there was a lot of finger-pointing. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Jackson County Legislature has lost its patience when it comes to the Jackson County Detention Center.

When it comes to who is responsible for the jail’s problems and progress, there was a lot of finger-pointing.

Tuesday’s meeting comes less than a week after a corrections officer was assaulted by an inmate. According to the sheriff, it’s incident number 172 this year.

“When he was beaten and there are eight minutes that go by and nobody comes to his side to help … I just, I don't find that acceptable,” county legislator Dennis Waits said.

Members of the legislature grilled County Executive Frank White. They don’t think he’s moving quickly enough to address problems, and they question his approach.

“Why do you have the same management team in place running that jail when incident after incident after incident occurs?” county legislator Crystal Williams said.

“I have complete confidence in the people that we have over there, and I have to have that confidence,” White said. 

White blames a lack of money and overcrowding. The jail’s director says they’re 40 correction officers short and 100 inmates over capacity.

“Overcrowding in our facility is the No. 1 reason that you have a lot of incidents with inmates and correction officers,” White said.

 Sheriff Mike Sharp says he’s offered his deputies to help with transportation, but they didn’t accept it. He says it would certainly be more cost effective to hire more correctional officers to handle the problem, but no one wants to work there.

“I could probably get 40 more deputies quicker than they could get 40 more correctional officers,” Sharp said.

Money is the big sticking point, and White says getting more money is the legislature’s responsibility.

Everyone agrees something has to be done to improve safety at the jail.

On Monday, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker decided not to participate in the Jail Task Force.

Sharp says he thinks the task force isn’t necessary. He says he feels like they’re just “kicking the can down the road again.”

He feels they already know the problems and the solutions needed and says it’s time for elected officials to come up with a plan. 

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