Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott is asking the Greene County Commission to consider a second temporary jail facility to help manage the overloaded jail population and reduce the county’s overall expenses in managing prisoners.
Currently, the Greene County Jail’s excess prisoners are sent out to jails in other counties. As of Wednesday March 6, the county had 133 prisoners who were being housed in other counties. Due to space limitations in those counties, and their willingness to house prisoners from other counties, Greene County is being forced to move further and further away from Springfield.
Sheriff Arnott said that the county is beginning to have to consider housing prisoners in the St. Louis area at current population growth rates.
Not only does the county have to pay for housing those prisoners in other facilities, they also have to pay for transport for those prisoners for hearings in Springfield. This requires not only vehicles, but transport personnel.
“If we reach 150 prisoners that have to be sent out,” Sheriff Arnott told the Commission, “we will need to hire additional transportation staff.”
The Sheriff then told the Commission that if they were to build a second temporary jail similar to the trailers currently being used, it could end up a significant net savings to the county. The new jail section could house over 100 prisoners, saving the county the costs of transport and housing, and allow more efficient processing of prisoners through the judicial facility. While the sheriff feels they will need to expand their transport unit later this year as budgeted, it would delay the expansion and save the county funds that are not currently in the budget.
The new location would be required to have a secure connection to a county facility that houses a storm shelter big enough to handle around 100 prisoners in the event of a tornado warning. Because of that restriction, there are only two reasonably viable locations for the facility according to the Sheriff: on the grounds of the Historic Courthouse or in the front parking area of the Judicial Center.
Members of the Commission indicated the Historic Courthouse was not a viable option.
That left the area in front of the judicial center, in the general area indicated below in shadow. The building to the bottom of the photo houses the Sheriff’s offices.
The area that would be used currently houses disabled parking spaces which would need to be placed somewhere else in the parking lot.
The Commission asked county staff to work with the Sheriff to determine if that is the best option or if another county location would be better suited for a potential second temporary jail facility.