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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Years of planning turns into reality as Jackson County breaks ground on a new $250 million detention center.

The new building is expected to meet the county’s goal of providing “justice with dignity.” County officials say they want the new detention center to be a lot more than just steel bars wrapped in bricks and mortar.
The building is being designed to rehabilitate inmates through educational and social support services. Elected leaders also promise the jail will meet the necessary safety, security and efficiency needs.

When completed, the detention center will be able to house more than 1,200 inmates.

“Today is bigger than just a groundbreaking or building a building,” Darryl Forte, Jackson County sheriff, said. “It’s an opportunity to change lives. An opportunity to bring people into our system, whether they want to be in our system or not. Because we have the care, custody and control of them. Now we can give them something that’s evidence based: the therapy and the training. So that’s what I’m excited about.”

Kansas City is also considering building a new jail to house more than 300 municipal prisoners.
The county’s new facility is designed with partnership in mind. It can be expanded to 1,366 beds.

And many taxpayers remain hopeful that the city will partner with Jackson County to share costs in developing one jail, instead of taxpayers footing the bill for two.

“There’s always that opportunity for the city to come in at some point, in the negotiations with them, to be a part of this facility,” Frank White Jr., Jackson County executive, said. “And if you look around there’s 104 acres here and the city owns 50 acres right next to us, so they have options as to whether they want to do something jointly with the county or do their own facility.”

County Manager Troy Schulte says Kansas City has expressed interest in the current downtown jail to make into the city’s own detention center. But given that building’s poor condition, county leaders say it may be more likely to be torn down.

Construction of the new detention center will be a three-year process. It’s expected to be completed in late 2024 or early 2025.

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