PLATTE CITY, Mo. — Platte County is taking another step to handle its growing jail population by approving an additional $142,000 to fund its remote monitoring program for criminal defendants.
County Commissioner Joe Vanover told FOX4 the county had already significantly increased its funding for the program to $175,000 for 2022.
“So far, the courts have been using the ankle monitoring much more than we expected,” Vanover said. “Based on that, the original $175,000 that was budgeted has basically been used up.”
That’s why Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said the additional money is badly needed for defendants who judges decide are safe enough to be in the community with electronic monitoring.
“The problem is we’re out of jail beds in Platte County,” said Zahnd, who noted the county is seeing more offenders than it ever has before.
He said it’s partially because Platte County is growing so fast, bringing more residents to the area and also attracting more visitors. Across the country, Zahnd points out, crime has also risen since the COVID-19 pandemic began. These two trends have put a strain on local facilities.
“The jail that we built 25 years ago was designed to be a 20-year solution,” Zahnd said. “It was a tremendous 20-year solution.”
The larger issue is that Platte County’s jail is often at or over capacity, forcing the county to pay about $55 every day for each inmate to neighboring counties to house between 10 and 20 defendants.
That arrangement can get expensive pretty quick. It’s prompting officials to consider a long list of options for how to handle the growing population, including jail pods or long-term agreements with neighboring counties who could soon be building their own new facilities soon.
“We’re in talks with other counties to are looking at building jails at whether or not we might have a piece of that action,” Vanover said.
He said other counties have explored building jails larger than what they currently need with an eye toward housing federal inmates or inmates from other counties in order to make a profit.
The process to build a new and bigger facility in Platte County would have to start with the Platte County commissioners, but Vanover said they are still examining all options right now.
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