Task force seeks to tackle problems at Jackson County jail

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A newly formed task force is now starting the long road to figuring out how to fix problems at the troubled Jackson County Jail.

The task force's overall goal is to make recommendations on the potential capacity of any type of jail the community needs and deserves.

An audit this summer suggested immediate action is needed to address the safety of both inmates and guards, and it made suggestions for considering repair, partial closures, or possibly building a new facility.  Now, the task force is taking a deeper dive.

Members will consider not just what the jail looks like moving forward, but if there are alternatives to jail like house arrest or community based corrections that could help lessen the load of people who end up behind bars.

"You have a significant number of individuals who are first-time offenders who you would not fear living right next to you.  And to have them in jail for 30 to 60 days when they could maybe be reformed through other alternatives which we want to discuss is worth our investigation," said Jackson County Jail task force co-chair John Fierro.

Public input will be a critical part of the process.  The task force plans to hold at least two public hearings in the coming weeks.  The panel has six months to make recommendations to the county legislature.

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