Kansas City and Jackson County officials on Thursday dedicated a new police holding area on the ground floor of the Jackson County Detention Center.
The facility began operations a week ago. Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said it will save taxpayers $1 million a year on the cost of housing detainees awaiting arraignment while cutting down on the time police officers are off the street processing arrests.
Sanders described it as “a better product at a better price” during a morning ceremony in the visitors lobby of the facility.
Until last week, people awaiting an initial court appearance on city charges were housed in an antiquated jail on the eighth floor of the downtown police headquarters. Mayor Sly James said it would have cost taxpayers as much as $7 million to renovate that jail. Officials have long described the facility as “a lawsuit waiting to happen” because of conditions that Police Chief Darryl Forté said were “deplorable.” That facility had not had a major update since it opened in 1938 and did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Kansas City paid close to $1 million to outfit the new holding area within the Jackson County Detention Center at 13th and Cherry streets. It can hold 100 people as they wait to be turned loose, released on bond or moved to the nearby Regional Correctional Center for stays longer than 24 hours.
Officials said the holding area marked the last piece of a process that started eight years ago, when discussions began on consolidating city and county jail facilities. Those talks led to the 2009 closing of the city’s Municipal Correctional Institution by the Truman Sports Complex. Since then, inmates serving time on city charges have been housed in the county’s Regional Correctional Center, where prisoners charged with state crimes are housed in a separate area.
In addition to saving tax dollars, the consolidation also means inmates have better access to services such as mental health care, officials said.