Jackson County

Jackson County officials press Frank White for solutions to jail crisis

Bill Grady
August 11, 2017 - 6:15 am
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Some Jackson County officials are expressing frustration with what they see as a lack of leadership in dealing with overcrowding, understaffing and corruption at the jail.

County Executive Frank White did not attend a meeting last week in which the legislature heard from consultant Jim Rowenhorst of CRA Incorporated. Rowenhorst said the Jackson County Detention Facility is one of the worst he has seen.

The jail has been the subject of a lengthy federal investigation. An FBI search in June led to charges against two corrections officers and two inmates in connection with a smuggling operation.  

Legislator Dan Tarwater says White was expected to attend a meeting Thursday to discuss overcrowding and modular units as a possible remedy. White was absent. Tarwater was not there either, but prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker was.

"Those issues cause a lot of safety concerns for guards and for inmates," Peters-Baker said. "(It's) incumbent upon us to kind of lean our shoulder into this and try and figure it out."

The legislature sent White a letter asking for short- and long-term solutions for the jail. White is expected to respond at the panel's regular meeting on Monday.

"We were kind of shut down at every point, and that was the reason for the letter, to get it on the record," Tarwater said. "We've talked in closed sessions and we're tired of doing closed sessions now."

While Tuesday's meeting was underway, White was headed back from St Louis where he watched the Royals play the Cardinals. White had also planned a visit to a different jail while en route.

KMBZ requested an interview with Frank White and was told he would not be available by our deadline.

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