PLATTE CITY, Mo. — The Committee for Public Safety in Platte County is finalizing it’s more than $69 million recommendation to the Platte County Commissioners for a renovated and expanded jail in Platte City.
The existing structure was designed to have 150 beds for inmates, but usually averages about 190 inmates over the last few months. That means inmates are routinely crammed into makeshift arrangements.
Committee for Public Safety Vice Chair Roger Lewis saw those conditions first-hand when the committee toured the facility.
“The jail was over-capacity and we witnessed inmates sleeping on mattresses on the floor,” Lewis said. “That’s a common occurrence these days at the Platte County Jail.”
Committee members pointed out that about 90% of the jail’s population are pretrial detainees, which creates potential issues for the county because those inmates have certain constitutional rights to which convicted inmates are not entitled.
The committee previously considered moving the jail away from Platte City in what might have been a much larger justice center project that could have included a new courthouse.
In October, Presiding Commissioner Scott Fricker directed the Committee to only consider inmate detention.
Lewis and other committee members said Wednesday night they took those comments to mean they should only consider solutions on the existing Platte City footprint.
The recommendation they are likely to pass along to county commissioners will expand the jail building but within a parking lot northwest of the existing building.
“So while we were given additional parameters to operate under, the recommendation from this committee is still very sound and based on good data and logical thinking from the eight members of this panel,” Lewis said.
Twenty million in the American Rescue Plan Act money is being used to renovate the existing court space, and convert other parts of the building into additional courtrooms.
After the recommendation is finalized and sent to the County Commissioners, Vanover says that three-member panel will need to figure out what to do next.
“It’s a lot of money but we knew it was going to be a lot of money,” Vanover said.
That’s what gives him a little big of pause, but FOX4 has documented overcrowding issues in the jail before, and the money the county has spent to either house inmates in other counties or improve technology options to allow inmates to be on home confinement.
Once the Commission has the recommendation, Vanover says they’ll try to finalize plans, project cost, and consider putting a ballot issue to voters in August or November of 2024 to approve borrowing the money to build the new jail.
“Adding another 300 beds probably will be a 25-year solution,” Vanover said.