Concerns come up as Jackson County legislators propose new jail facility

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As talks about a new detention center continue in Jackson County, legislators say they have new concerns that aren’t getting answers.

County Legislator Dan Tarwater proposed the facility in response to the needs of the current jail, where conditions have gotten worse in recent years. The cost of the project is expected to be $300 million, with $100 million of the budget to be used for contingencies.

Tony Miller, 3rd district legislator, said one major problem is the need for collaboration to solve a county-wide problem.

“It sounds like we are having to prepare for this alone,” he said. “When it seems like it’s important enough where it impacts the community that we should be having these conversations.”

He said with a helping hand, the jail can become a reality, faster.

“Everything from design to finance, to making sure it’s the right size, to what are the needs going to be in 50 years from now?” Miller said. “We just want to make sure we are doing it right. We have to do more than to sit back and wait for them to come to us.”

Jalen Anderson, 1st district legislator, said the communities impacted most need more chance for input.

“The amount of black men that are in this jail, the amount of Latinx people that are in this jail, the majority are minorities,” Anderson said. “We don’t have enough voices from our communities of color to move forward on this.”

Anderson also believes the plan needs to address help for those who need mental health support, including dedicating a specific number of beds in the detention center to those who require mental health support.

Lawmakers said addressing these concerns are a step in the right direction before moving on to construction.

“There’s a lot of regulatory and territorialism and all kinds of things like that,” Miller said. “Now’s the time for us to be talking and working together.

The proposal was put on hold and will be discussed during the next meeting on March 1.

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