The Kansas City Council has approved a 2009-2010 budget that calls for transferring inmates from the City's Municipal Correctional Institution (MCI) and allots funds to pay the County to house MCI inmates. The City, consulting with County staff, will also manage and cover the cost of the renovations. While municipal inmates will be processed at the County Detention Center, they'll be housed separately within the new RCC -- male inmates on the third floor and females on the fourth. The fifth floor will be used for administration and inmate support services.
"We will operate this as a jail within a jail," Jackson County Department of Corrections Director Ken Conlee stated.
The City-County agreement calls for Kansas City to provide Jackson County $57 per day per municipal inmate. County Executive Mike Sanders praised Conlee and the County Corrections staff for driving detention costs down.
"We used to be looking at $72, $73, $74 dollars per inmate per day, with millions of dollars in overtime," Sanders said. "With Ken's leadership, we now have the Detention Center running very effectively, very efficiently. Without getting the costs down to $57 per day, this agreement would not have been possible."
Former MCI employees are being given a preference as the County fills the 61 new positions that will be created when RCC opens.
Giving MCI staff first priority when filling those new jobs in RCC was one of three key issues, Kansas City Councilwoman Cathy Jolly said, in finalizing the agreement between the County and City. The other two were having a facility in "close proximity" -- the RCC is within three blocks of Kansas City Municipal Court -- and having space within that facility to provide mental health and social services for inmates.
Cathy Jolly testifies before the Jackson County Legislature earlier this year.
"These individuals will be coming back into our community quickly," Jolly pointed out during a May 4 meeting of the Jackson County Legislature. "They need these services. They need to be in a facility where they can be visited by their families, so they can maintain those important connections."
She added that the agreement represents "the best policy for public safety."
Sanders agreed, saying, "This is a big victory for this community."
Sanders complimented both City and County staff for "smoothly ironing out all the details" of the detention agreement. He is confident the deal will be "mutually beneficial," with the City saving money by relocating to this new facility, and the County collecting revenue for housing the municipal detainees and inmates at a level that is adequate to cover the County's costs.
Calling this agreement with Kansas City a short-term option, Sander anticipates that other communities will negotiate with the County to house inmates, with the long-term solution being the development of a regional detention center serving the entire County.