MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo. — Construction on an expansion project for the McDonald County Jail is underway and will help ease the overcrowding issues that the county has faced throughout the last decade.
The jail currently has 32 beds, but the average daily count is oftentimes as many as 44 inmates. As a result, several inmates usually end up sleeping on mats on the floor in lieu of the steel beds offered at the facility. The conditions are so dire that inmates will do anything, even fake injuries, to be released from the jail, Correctional Officer John Arnett told KODE-12, a local news outlet.
The new expansion will essentially double the size of the jail, creating enough space to hold about 70 beds and help ease overcrowding. The project will also include a new sallyport and better security that includes better exterior door locking when inmates are dropped off, in order to prevent past mistakes that led to jail escapes. It will also include stronger door locks and 28 new cameras, according to KODE-12.
One other highlight of the project will be the new Video Presentation technology that will allow inmates to make contact with family and friends beyond the jail’s walls. Not only will inmates be able to call family members, but they will also be able to see them through the videoconferencing software, Arnett said.
While the renovation will help ease overcrowding for now, the county sees the same issue happening again as the jail population continues to grow, a result of the increase in drug crimes in the area. Sheriff Mike Hall told KOAM TV, another local news source, that the county will have to find different programs or do other things to deter people from committing these crimes.
The renovations are being funded by reserves, and construction on the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to KOAM TV.