KANSAS CITY, Mo — Jackson County Corrections Officer Jerry Emery is in stable condition after a brutal beating Wednesday, and 20-year-old inmate Johnny Dunlap has been charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action for the attack.
This latest incident has some people calling for immediate changes at the Jackson County Jail.
Under the condition of anonymity, a former corrections officer at the Jackson County Jail talked about the issues plaguing the jail. He said Dunlap is not the only one responsible for the attack on Emery — the county is culpable, too.
“They did him no favors by keeping him in that jail,” said the former officer, referring to Emery. “He is not a bad person, but he's just not the kind of person who needs to be working there. He put himself and everyone else in danger by staying there and so did the county for letting him.”
The former corrections officer said when the two worked together, he felt that Emery was too trusting of the inmates and had concerns about what he calls "situational awareness."
“There were concerns I had that I definitely passed on up to my supervisors, so it is not like they are blind to this,” he said. “He is a very nice guy, and he certainly did not deserve to get assaulted or put on a ventilator, but having him by himself in charge of a place like C-Pod was just asking for trouble.”
Pod C once housed low-risk inmates in the Jackson County jail, but because of overcrowding and the increase of violent offenders, it's now a lockdown pod housing inmates with discipline problems. Just one officer guards the unit at a time, the former officer said.
“So now you are on your own unless somebody over in mater control is watching your camera, and they have an entire facility to run so good luck with that,” he said. He attributes that situation to staffing issues.
Before he quit, the former officer said most officers were working overtime almost every day as jail administrators tried to do less with more in an environment of escalating violence.
“It burns you out more than anything waking up, going to work, wondering if you are going to come home or not, or at all,” the former corrections officer said. “I don’t think the situation is going to get any better until Sheriff Mike Sharp or Prosecutor Baker takes more, has more authority over the jail and removed Frank White.”
Although it's not on the agenda, the attack on Emery and danger within the jail are expected to be a hot topic at Tuesday’s Jackson County Executive meeting.