Independent auditor says Jackson County Jail is in crisis with understaffing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Independent auditor Jim Rowenhorst has been conducting an extensive investigation into conditions in the Jackson County Jail.

After collecting evidence for months from interviews with jailers and inmates, documents, and in-person visits, Rowenhorst told Jackson County executives the jail is in a crisis situation, in his opinion. 

He said staffing is a crisis, and it’s putting staff and inmates in danger.

“Leaving staffing so low on any of those floors is dangerous,” Rowenhorst said. “It is a significant threat to safety and security of not only the officers but the inmates. Because that low of level of staffing cannot adequately supervise the inmates.” 

Rowenhorst said: 

  • There are repeated situations where two jailers are in charge of more than 150 inmates on an entire floor.
  • He believes floors of the jail should be shut-down until there is adequate staffing.
  • He did report that the sewage leak at the jail has been repaired, and $2 million was spent repairing broken cell doors.

A Jackson County judge testified that inmates are being delivered to court late because of the staffing shortage at the jail.  

The HR representative with the Jackson County Administrator's Office said they are trying to hire more jailers, but the pay is only $12.60 an hour so many new hires will quit because of the low salary and dangerous working conditions.

One Jackson County legislator suggested trimming other budgets to boost salaries for jailers. He also suggested a long-term solution for the future might be building a new county jail.

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