PLATTE CITY, Mo. — A Platte County Grand Jury documented the aging conditions in the Platte County Jail, saying, “the facilities are beginning to show age, and the inmate population consistently exceeds the maximum capacity of the jail,” according to a letter.

It says the sheriff’s office staff are doing a very good job, provide excellent security, and are respectful towards inmates but are understaffed.

FOX4 has documented previous examples of county leaders trying to find alternate options to extend the life of the jail or ease the burden created by overcrowding.

Still, Platte County Presiding Commissioner Scott Fricker tells FOX4 the commissioners are not going to ask taxpayers to approve a sales tax that would pay for a massive renovation, expansion, or new jail facility altogether. A similar ballot measure overwhelmingly failed in 2019.

“We’re not ready to put a jail tax on the ballot,” Fricker said.

Fricker wasn’t on the Commission in 2019 and he admits he voted against it. Yet, four years later, he says the county needs to prepare for the inevitability of a new jail project in some way.

“I think we have to start down the road, and I think that means some sort of a feasibility study, figuring out what the numbers are,” Fricker said.

Already, the county has started updating a study projecting the jail population decades into the future while talking with other counties and cities about the possibility of a regional facility to house inmates.

It’s especially timely after a Ray County inmate was on the run for a week after stabbing a correctional officer with a shank made from metal pulled from the jail’s walls.

“We’ve had inmates take pieces of metal off bottoms of doors and grind them into shanks so it’s not difficult for them to do that sort of thing in an older jail,” Fricker said.

Instead, Fricker says the focus is on more short and medium-term solutions, like increasing the budget for paying other counties to house the inmates in Platte County for whom the facility doesn’t have room.

Eventually, though, Fricker says the county will have to address its long-term needs.

“No matter what we do, the existing jail will remain the county jail and it needs to be fully renovated,” Fricker said.