RICHMOND, Mo. — An allegedly violent inmate’s escape from the Ray County, Missouri Jail Tuesday has reignited the conversation around the safety and security of that facility.
Sheriff Scott Childers says Justin Robinson was being held for allegedly stabbing his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach in January.
Since July 2021, Childers has been telling FOX4 about the issues with the jail facility. It’s why he wanted voters to pass a sales tax to fund a new building.
That vote failed.
“This obviously points out a lot of concerns we’ve had in the past with jail staffing and security issues in our jail,” Childers said Tuesday. “They need to be addressed, they’re real. I’ve been talking about it for several years, and unfortunately, here we are.”
Childers said Robinson, and a since-captured inmate, peeled a piece off the jail wall and used it to stab a guard.
Here’s what Childers said about those jail walls in October 2021: “We have walls that are rusting, and people are able to pull the metal off to make shanks.”
Childers said that guard is expected to be OK.
“We don’t have cells. We have open pods,” Childers said Tuesday. “There’s approximately 12 [inmates] in each pod, so it’s 12 to one when you go. And we have to the old-style locks and doors. There’s a lot of concerns with our jail.”
In October 2011, then-Presiding Ray County Commissioner Bob King told FOX4, “We know the jail is not safe. We’re trying to figure out what we can do to help Sheriff Scott Childers. We’re willing to work with him any time he wants work with us. We want the best for Ray County that we can get.”
King is no longer a commissioner.
FOX4 emailed and called current commissioners multiple times about any improvements and didn’t hear back until Monday.
“I understand the question about what Mr. King said, but I prefer not to comment on what past commissioners said or did, instead focus on how we can move the county forward and try to get the county infrastructure built up to where it needs to be,” Commissioner Billy Gaines said.
“The jail has been a big issue for many years, and the commissioners will work hard with Sheriff Childers to ensure our county residents stay safe. We hope the Ray County residents see how important a new jail would benefit our county.”
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“It just makes you sick that we have people like that running the streets, and they should be locked up in a tighter facility than that,” said Cody Kirk, a Richmond native.