County legislators demand action on Jackson Co. Jail

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jackson County legislators are demanding that County Executive Frank White take action to prevent corrections officers from being attacked again by prisoners inside the Jackson County jail.

"Why do you have the same management team in place running that jail when incident after incident after incident occurs?"asked Legislator Crystal Williams.

White says that despite the latest assault, he has confidence in the current management and operations of the jail.

Many legislators told the county executive that a task force studying a new jail for the next six months is an unnecessary delay to solving safety and security problems that are all too real right now.

White claims there is no delay.

He repeatedly told legislators to place a tax proposal on the April ballot pay for a new jail. He says he's just trying to make sure voters will support it.

Legislators complained that the most recent attack on a jail guard shows White is not making the detention center safer and more secure.

"When he’s beaten and there’s eight minutes that go by and nobody comes to his side to help, I don’t find that acceptable," said county legislator Dennis Waits.

White says he has confidence in jail managers and plans no changes.

The corrections director says cameras in the jail are not monitored 24 hours a day.

The center needs at least 30 more corrections officers to handle the capacity of 780 inmates who are currently housed there. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp says nearly a year ago he offered to have deputies take over transporting inmates, to free up more corrections officers to work in the jail, but he says the idea went nowhere.

White says even a fully staffed jail will have problems such as assaults when there are crowded conditions. He says he's moving forward to improve conditions in the jail that he believes will be sufficient for the next three to five years while new jail options are studied.