KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Amid problems at the Jackson County Jail, the county’s prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker issued a statement Friday regarding public safety and the county’s jail.
Read her full statement below:
I wish to thank all Jackson County officials who took time this week to respond to the troubling reports from the jail auditor. I was pleased to see us come together Thursday to address these issues in a public session. This gives me great hope for how we can work together to greatly improve the conditions and operations of the jail.
The jail has an enormous impact on public safety in our community. It’s imperative that it be a model facility that protects all inmates and staff. As you may know, there’s an ongoing investigation of contraband and other issues at the jail. This is a significant public safety threat. We continue to investigate inmates using illegal cell phones without any monitoring to conduct criminal activity or initiate threats and intimidating actions against victims and witnesses – from their jail cell.
I wish to stress that my office will not hesitate to take all appropriate steps to protect victims and witnesses from intimidation and threats leveled from the Jackson County Detention Center. Our community expects that the jail be an asset to public safety, not a threat to it.
Timeline of event at the Jackson County Jail:
- On July 1st, a prisoner died after reportedly being locked to a chair for an extended period of time.
The incident is still under investigation, but a source close to the investigation told FOX 4 the inmate was left locked up on a chair and was forgotten about. The inmate was eventually taken to a hospital, where he died.
No detention center staff members have been charged in that inmate’s death, but others have been accused of wrongdoing in other incidents.
- The jail was raided on June 26, which led to charges against four individuals, including two correctional officers.
Andrew Lamonte Dickerson, 26, a correction officer, is accused of receiving $500 to smuggle two packs of cigarettes, a cell phone and a charger into the detention center. Dickerson then allegedly asked another informant if he’d be interested in paying him a monthly fee of $2,500 in exchange for being the only inmate on the 5th floor with contraband.
Jalee Caprice Fuller, 29, another correction officer, is accused of taking money bribes to smuggle contraband to inmates. Fuller allegedly made telephone calls and sent text messages to promote the conspiracy, and actually smuggled cell phones and other contraband to inmates at the detention center.
- Just a few days after federal charges were filed against those officers, an Independence man filed a lawsuit against the detention center, claiming he suffered harm due to unsanitary conditions.
The man claims he was locked in a cell with human waste, raw sewage, feces and urine for nearly a month.
“Just because somebody has been charged with crime doesn’t mean we strip away all human rights and human dignity. That`s really what this case is about: protecting the basic human rights of anyone charged with a crime,” attorney Casey Symonds said.
Symonds says his client’s pleas to have conditions corrected went unanswered, and though he offered to clean up the overflowing, malfunctioning toilet himself, he was offered no supplies to so except a mop and a bucket.
- Another lawsuit, filed on May 9, comes from an inmate who said he was raped by another prisoner. The victim said not only did the guard not help, but she actually gave cocaine to the inmate who attacked him.
- Last year, the jail’s reputation was severely tarnished after a highly publicized incident in which several female prisoners were raped by male prisoners in August 2016. The male prisoners were able to obtain keys to leave their cells and walk freely through the detention center; they made their way to the female ward and enter the women’s cells and sexually assault them.
The Jackson County Legislature approved a resolution Monday to pay $275,000 to the claimant who accused the county of “negligent acts” after an investigation found that the inmates were able to get the keys after a guard had left the keys in a cell door.
FOX 4 will follow developments and decisions made about the Jackson County Detention Center as they unfold.