KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The day after a scathing report on conditions inside the Jackson County jail, families impacted are demanding change.
“This is an emergency situation and something has to be done now,” said Mary Kay Green, who has a grandson being held at the jail.
Under the cross, Mary Kay Green comes to her church, seeking solace in her faith.
“I pray every day for my grandson and the other inmates and the guards and for justice down there,” Green said.
Mary Kay’s grandson, Michael Green, is being held in the Jackson Co. jail. He’s been there more than two years awaiting trial. And every day, she worries for his safety.
“He’s been one of the prisoners subjected to the abuse and brutality by the guards,” said Green.
She says her grandson suffers from ADHD and bipolar disorder. At times, Mary Kay claims Michael hasn’t been given his meds.
“They’re entitled to decent circumstances. The loss of freedom is the penalty they suffer. They don’t have to suffer physical and emotional mistreatment,” said Green.
Green says the findings of the jail auditor’s report are appalling, but not surprising.
“The situation has to be improved not only for the inmates, but for the guards, too. And I think if Frank White doesn’t step up, he should resign,” Green said.
Frank White is the county executive responsible for jail operations. He didn’t attend Thursday’s emergency legislative meeting. FOX 4 News found him speaking at a youth event Friday. His staff told us White wouldn’t take questions about the jail. They pointed to previous statements and a document which highlights several improvements the county’s made so far to address the issues.
But we pressed for answers about the auditor’s troubling findings.
“Mr. White, will you comment on the report about the jail that says it is in crisis mode?”
White did not answer and walked past the FOX 4 crew.
The county executive’s staff and legislature admit there are still problems at the jail. Staffing is the biggest. The auditor spotted one floor of the jail with nearly 200 inmates and just two guards watching them. Officers in the Jackson Co. jail barely make $12/hour, and there’s a 40 percent turnover rate.
Mary Kay Green says the officers and inmates deserve better.
“I’ve been waiting two years for the justice department to take over this jail or at least supervise it. But now it is a disaster,” Green said.
Green says her grandson is now getting better mental healthcare, but believes there’s still a long list of improvements the jail needs. She’s now hoping legislators will heed the jail auditor’s warning and act immediately to find solutions, both short and long term, to make the jail safer.