An open house of sorts is hosted at the Jasper County jail to give members of the media a look at a newly renovated inmate intake area. Jail workers say there has been a trend within the inmate population that has pointed towards the need for more care from deputies.
You may be surprised to learn this small space, 500 square feet to be exact, is poised to make a difference at the jail. The jail still has 183 beds, the same as usual. But this is all about quality, not quantity.
"It's going to provide us so much more versatility and accommodation for the inmates here," says Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser.
The renovated intake area will handle 3,400 inmates a year. Jail workers say they've been seeing more inmates who need special care, sometimes isolation.
"They just need a quite place to sit by themselves for a little bit," says jail worker Captain Becky Stevens. "Some place we can monitor them, but they're kind of out of all the chaos of the runnings of the jail."
There are two new individual inmate holding cells that can house inmates during their entire jail stay.
"You have veterans coming back who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. You have all kinds of illnesses that are a result of drug use," says Stevens.
There's also a larger holding cell that can hold several inmates at one time. A new central air system, separate from the rest of the jail, is not only convenient, but hopefully more safe.
Stevens says, "We've had some medical individuals who are highly contagious. We have to have some place to put those people until we can get them to the hospital or wherever it is they need to be. This will be great, especially coming on the flu season!"
There's always the proactive approach to decreasing crime and arrests. But Sheriff Kaiser says local trends show his jail may have to go through even more changes in the future; the type of changes that would affect quantity.
"Our average daily capacity last year was 189 inmates. Our average daily capacity 20 years ago was around 130, 140," says Kaiser.
Jail workers hope taxpayers see their money being spent wisely. After all, the sound of jail doors closing still point to a place not nearly as comfortable as home.
This project's cost came out to $220,000. The jail now has eight holding rooms, in total, that can also be used for preparing inmates for transportation, or meetings between inmates and attorneys. The sheriff says more than $6,000 was saved in this renovation project by reusing toilets, lights, and other fixtures from the now closed juvenile detention center in Joplin.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas