Jackson County has released more than 200 inmates

Kansas DOC reports new COVID-19 cases
Law enforcement agencies search Jackson Co. Jail
Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 18:00:00-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 200 inmates from the Jackson County Detention Center have been released since a county executive order aimed at decreasing the jail population was signed March 18.

There were 840 inmates in the Jackson County jail at the time of the order, but currently only 638 remain behind bars, a decrease of more than 24%.

Non-violent offenders and those jailed on a bond of $5,000 are being considered for the early release.

So far, five people at the Jackson County Detention Center, three inmates and two staff members, have tested positive for COVID-19.

There also are 24 inmates in quarantine — 15 due to coming in close contact with the infected individuals, eight as a precaution and one due to a positive test before being arrested.

Truman Medical Centers is providing testing for the jail when needed.

“TMC has tested every inmate identified as symptomatic,” Jackson County Detention Center Director Diana L. Turner told 41 Action News via email. “Of those tested, only 3 have been positive, as listed above.”

The possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in a confined jail or prison population is a concern across the county, including Kansas.

The Kansas Department of Corrections has reported positive COVID-19 cases in three of its facilities, including Lansing Correctional Facility.

Lansing, which was the site of a recent inmate uprising, has 87 confirmed cases — 40 inmates and 47 staff members, according to new figures from the KDOC.

The Department of Corrections also confirmed Monday that a male staff member over the age of 20 at the Topeka Correctional Facility, an all-female prison with a capacity of 948 inmates, had tested positive.

In conjunction with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, contact tracing is underway to determine if other staff or inmates were at risk for exposure.

“Our corrections staff are committed to their work of preparing our residents for a successful return to their communities,” KDOC Secretary Jeff Zmuda said in a statement. “Our staff take that responsibility very seriously and we will continue to work with KDHE to ensure that we are conducting ourselves in a way that ensures the health and safety of everyone.”

The Shawnee County Health Department is handling the community-wide contact tracing.

A Wichita Work Release Facility resident also tested positive. He has been relocated to Lansing Correctional Facility.