Jackson County prosecutor declines position on new jail task force after guard assaulted by inmate

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County’s prosecutor has declined her appointment to the county’s new jail task force, county officials say.

In a letter to County Executive Frank White, Jean Peters Baker said she is declining the position after the assault of a corrections officer caused her to “re-evaluate (her) participation.”

Peters Baker said county officials need to act now to fix problems at the Jackson County jail.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker

“The jail experts who advised the county Legislature were very clear earlier this year that the overcrowded conditions and poor staffing were a crisis that needed to be addressed immediately,” she wrote. “They recommended closing part of the jail until those conditions could be remedied. Spending more time to further study the overcrowded and unsafe conditions at the detention center is simply inappropriate.”

The letter comes less than a week after a Jackson County correctional officer was attacked inside the jail Wednesday night.

According to court records, 20-year-old Johnny R. Dunlap was in Pod C of the Jackson County Detention Center when he assaulted an on-duty corrections officer. The officer was listed in critical condition after suffering several injuries, including fractured facial and nasal bones, but is now in stable condition.

Surveillance video and witness statements revealed the defendant assaulted the corrections officer with a variety of items, including a plastic cone, for several minutes. The officer was unconscious for much of the assault.

The Jackson County jail has come under heavy fire in recent months, resulting from multiple reports concerning the safety of inmates and guards.  An outside auditor called the jail a “crisis” earlier this year.

Earlier this month, White announced a new task force to examine all the issues inside the county jail, and whether it makes more sense to fix the problems or build a new jail.

Previous Jackson County jail coverage: