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At Kansas City's Temporary Jail, One Inmate Has Died And Two Have Escaped

Rebecca Hange
KCUR 89.3

Since Kansas City, Missouri, transferred its inmates from the Jackson County jail to the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change in late June, one inmate has died and two have escaped.

An inmate was found dead Tuesday at the facility at 15th and Campbell, according to police. They have not disclosed the inmate's identity or provided other details. The incident is under police investigation.

Another inmate escaped from the facility overnight Tuesday.

Police responded around 1:30 a.m. to a report of a suspicious party near the facility.  Heartland corrections officers told them that Terrence Bryant had escaped from a second-floor window. 

Bryant was found Wednesday morning at 27th and Park Avenue. 

The first inmate escaped less than two weeks after the inmate transfer took place. According to police, Jermond Lewis got out of his restraints and left the building. 

Lewis remains at large, according to KCPD spokesperson Darin Snapp.

Heartland Center declined KCUR's requests for comment.

City inmates were formerly held at the Jackson County Detention Center, but the county opted not to renew its contract with the city last year after saying Kansas City needed to double the amount it paid to rent space for the inmates. 

The City Council approved a $3.2 million contract with Heartland Center to rent 110 beds, 25 for police detainees and 85 for convicted offenders.

Kansas City spokesman Chris Hernandez said the city is "concerned about public safety at the facility."

"Obviously this is a new way of doing business for us," Hernandez said. "We knew there'd be challenges with the transition."

After the first inmate, Lewis, escaped in early July, Hernandez said city officials met with Heartland to make adjustments to infrastructure and updates to staff procedures. Hernandez did not specify what, exactly, was changed.

"With what happened overnight, we are renewing that effort," he said.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter at KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @andreatudhope

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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