JaxCo jail to audit, some reports may be missing

Posted at 10:35 PM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 23:35:02-04

The special task force assigned to make recommendations on the Jackson County Detention Center held their first public meeting Thursday.

At the meeting, Department of Corrections officials revealed there may be some important information missing.

On Monday, 41 Action News exclusively obtained complaints made to the county’s complaint office about the detention center.

On the same day of the meeting, new documents released show even more grievances made by inmates themselves.

However, DoC officials revealed they now have to go back and do an audit on all of those complaints.

In the meeting held at the historic Truman Courthouse, members of the task force learned the jail hasn’t been accredited since 1996.

William Eckhardt, a member of the task force and criminal law professor at UMKC asked, “Did we stop because of budget or were there other reasons?”

“I think what we’re all saying is that we need to pursue accreditation again,” John Fierro, President of the Mattie Rhodes Center and task force member said.

Alvin Brooks chairs the group that the county put together to investigate the jail after reports of excessive force by corrections officers.

The FBI launched an investigation into those complaints but these meetings will help the task force come up with policy and procedure recommendations for the jail.

“This is America and they’re open to the same equal protection of the law and due process and safe, sanitary facilities as any other citizen,” said Brooks.

The new grievances released to 41 Action News show more reported issues at the jail.

One inmate described verbally abusive behavior by an employee. Another complained about denial of services like clean clothing.

But during the meeting, DoC officials noted the number of these complaints were very low and did not seem accurate.

“We have discovered that some of that tracking may not have been accurately done so we’re doing an audit of those so we may different numbers on that in the future,” the meeting's moderator Brian Johnson explained.

Representatives from the jail did cite a low budget as a large factor in retaining good officers.

Johnson said the average corrections officer at the Jackson County jail makes $11.45 and hour which is several dollars below the national average.

Brooks asked, “How can we keep good people with that pay?”

The task force is expected to make policy and procedure recommendations by November 2nd.