Planning After JCDC Facility Assessment

Jackson County Executive proposes master planning process after assessment report on JCDC facilities

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A nearly 450-page facility condition assessment report of the Jackson County Department of Corrections Complex concludes that Jackson County should pursue a new corrections facility to serve the community.

The recommendation comes after a months-long evaluation by a locally-based design team from Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, or HOK, who was contracted by the County after a request for the assessment by Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr.

“HOK was asked to take a thorough and honest look at our detention facilities and told not to hold back on their findings,” White said. “Thanks to their hard work, we now have a detailed and clear picture of where we stand in order to make informed and responsible decisions moving forward.”

More than 30 years of deferred maintenance is one major cause of the Department of Corrections deteriorating facilities, according to the HOK design team’s assessment. A full renovation of the four buildings that consist of the corrections complex is estimated to cost nearly $150 million.

“It is important to note that even if the County invested in all of the needed repairs and renovations, the corrections complex would still have inherent inadequacies and deficiencies. It would still be more than 30 years behind current detention standards,” said Sonya Jury, HOK senior project manager.

The HOK design team cited additional factors for their recommendation, including outdated layout, new building codes, new detention guidelines, increasing inmate capacity and low staffing.

Final findings from a separate legislative audit by CRA, Inc. recommended improving recruitment, hiring and retention of detention center staff. White appreciates the auditor’s work and the administration has taken action to address the concerns.

Today, White and his team proposed increasing the starting wage to $15/hour for corrections officers. They also detailed other incentives to attract and retain qualified staff.

“At the time of a 2015 Task Force study, entry pay for Jackson County corrections officers was 38% below the market rate,” White said. “We reduced that gap last year with a new pay structure and today, for the first time, our proposal for entry pay would put our associates in line with the market rate, thus closing that gap.”

In response to the assessment, White is recommending the implementation of a master plan. The goal is to help determine whether the County should renovate, expand, build new or do a combination of those items. The administration will actively engage the legislature, law enforcement and community stakeholders in this process.

Citizens can read the full executive summary of the facility condition assessment by visiting the Jackson County website.

HOK Official Assessment