KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Jackson County Detention Center is considered dangerous and in desperate need of repairs, according to multiple studies on the facility. A recent design firm hired by Jackson County estimated the jail needed a minimum of $150 million in repairs to fix the problems.
Pressure has been mounting to address the problems, after alleged criminal activity and unsanitary conditions and other issues were reported at the jail at 1300 Cherry St. On Tuesday, Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. held a news conference to announce a Jail Task Force and explain its mission concerning the current and future of the Jackson County Detention Center.
Members of the Jail Task Force include:
• John Fierro, President/CEO Mattie Rhodes Center – Co-Chair
• Gayle Holliday, Freedom Inc. President – Co-Chair
• Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor
• Alvin Brooks, Community Activist
• Scott Burnett, Jackson County Legislature Chairman
• Alissia Canady, KCMO City Councilwoman 5th District
• Carol Coe, Lawyer/Former County Legislator/Former City Councilwoman
• Karen Curls, MCC Division of Social Science Chair
• Niki Lee Donawa, TMC Chief Community Relations Officer
• State Rep. Brandon Ellington, District 22
• Lisa Pelofsky, CEO Pelofsky & Associates
• Mike Schumacher, Assistant to the City Manager KCMO
• Mike Sharp, Jackson County Sheriff
• Judge John Torrence, Presiding Judge Circuit Court Division 14
Persistent Problems at Jackson County Detention Center
Over the summer, several staff members walked off the job, leaving the jail shorthanded. Visitations were suspended, much to the dismay of friends and family who had expected a visit.
Frustrated family members said they had taken off work or left work early to be admitted as visitors.
This is just the latest in a series of problems at the detention center.
- 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 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.
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