KC adds Vernon County to jails housing inmates as Jackson County contract expires

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Council unanimously approved a $350,000 contract with the Vernon County Sheriff's Office on Thursday to house 20 inmates.

The Vernon County Jail is more than 90 minutes from Jackson County's Regional Correctional Center where city inmates facing or convicted of municipal charges are currently housed.

The city got a letter from Jackson County a year ago, explaining the intergovernmental agreement to house city inmates at the building, which is connected to the Jackson County Detention Center, was expiring June 25, 2019.

A city spokesperson said the county wanted to raise the cost per inmate from $54 to $72 a day.

"We gave them the 12 months’ notice because it costs over $110 per day to house an inmate," Jackson County Legislature Chairman Theresa Galvin previously told FOX4.

"We had spent months and months and months trying to come to an agreement with Jackson County. It was clear that was not in the cards," Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner said following Thursday's vote.

Kansas City has already contracted with Johnson County, Missouri, for another 30 beds and the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change for 110 beds.

But it's well short of the space they currently have in Jackson County.

Wagner, who chairs the Finance and Governance Committee tasked with coming up with a short term solution, agrees it's not optimal.

"The reality is there are only certain places that you can hold people, and frankly, there are not jails lying around downtown Kansas City. You've got to come up with options." Wagner said.

Kansas City plans to send people serving sentences of several months or more to those jails out of the city, to cut down on transportation costs.

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