In recent weeks, Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen says he has been forced to transfer inmates to nearby jails.
“When the population in the detention center is between 220-230 inmates it pushes our staff and facility resources too far,” Owen stated. “We cannot safely keep this many inmates at a time in our jail.”
Owen said he met with Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, county commissioner Joe Vanover and others on March 9 to address the imminent overcrowding problems at the jail. The group discussed short-term and mid-term solutions.
The next day the sheriff’s office began transferring inmates to the Clay County Detention Center. Owen moved additional inmates to the Buchanan County jail on April 2. At present, 14 inmates are being kept in other jails.
“In many of our cells, we have inmates sleeping on the floor in temporary beds. Trying to keep too many people in the jail will lead to more disciplinary problems,” Owen added.
Owen asked for a special meeting with the county commission to brief them on the situation. Owen, Zahnd, and Sixth Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Thomas Fincham met with the full county commission on Monday, April 4.
“Moving our inmates to other jails is only a short-term solution,” Owen commented. “This problem will likely get worse as we come into summer when we traditionally have more inmates.”
The sheriff’s office has agreements with other area detention centers to house inmates. In the past the agreements have only been used rarely in special situations. This is the first time inmates have been moved to other counties to reduce the inmate population.
The current Platte County Detention Center was built in 1998. Originally the facility was designed to house 154 inmates. In 2015, Owen said he added 26 inmate beds to the facility, raising the design to house 180 inmates. The 26 additional beds were the maximum number of beds that could be added to the facility based on available square footage while maintaining the level of security of the facility.
Platte County’s population has grown from 75,000 to over 100,000 since the current jail was opened, the sheriff pointed out.