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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Temporary Jail Will Add 108 Inmate Beds for Greene County

Temporary jail facility
Scott Harvey

Greene County says it expects a temporary jail facility to open this November in order to house an influx of inmates and reduce the costs of transporting them elsewhere.

Greene County Commissioners announced Wednesday they finalized a lease last week for the temporary structure. It will be located next to its existing jail, which has a capacity of 601 inmates.

“We have exceeded that every day for several years now with state and federal inmates,” Greene Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin said in a statement. “Our costs are rising and other county jails are running out of room. At some point, the levee will break. The question now is how to stem that until we can find permanent solutions to expand the jail and address the systemic criminal justice issues we face.”

Through the agreement with Seymour-based All Detainment Solutions, Greene County will lease six temporary structures outfitted with beds, utilities, bathrooms, and guard stations. It will allow space for up to 108 inmates.

According to the county, the temporary structures will be placed in a parking lot just east of the jail at 933 N. Robberson Avenue and will be surrounded by 10-foot-tall fencing with razor wire affixed to the top.

Housing inmates outside jail facilities is expected to cost the county $2.2 million in 2017 alone. Inmates are transferred by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office to Cedar, Henry, Johnson, Miller and Pettis counties.

“This is a temporary solution to get us into the next few months,” said Sheriff Jim Arnott. “The continuing rise of jail population will put us in a critical situation. We are housing 157 inmates out of the county.”

The County guarantees use of the temporary jail for the first two years at $873,153 per year. Thereafter, the lease will be considered for potential renewal based on continued jail needs. If renewed, years three, four and five will cost $833,727 per year, and $794,313 in year six.

Meanwhile, a long-term fix to the overcrowding jail continues to be discussed. Earlier this month, commissioners received a report from a jail and prison consultant about how renovations to its jail can hold enough prisoners to meet current and future demand. Officials hope to pay for a jail expansion with a new sales tax it’ll soon ask citizens to approve. Putting the decision before voters is part of an agreement the county and city of Springfield reached in July that ended a more than two-year dispute between them over jail use.

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