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Jackson County To Spend $7 Million On Site For New Kansas City Detention Center

The current Jackson County Detention Center in downtown Kansas City.
Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
The current Jackson County Detention Center is located in downtown Kansas City.

This is the first step in replacing the current Jackson County Detention Center which has been overcrowded since it opened in downtown Kansas City in 1984.

The Jackson County Legislature voted Monday to spend about $7 million on a site for the county’s detention facility, the first step in building a new one.

The 107-acre property, at 7000 E. U.S. Highway 40, is currently the Heart Mobile Village trailer park, and is owned by Park Properties Inc., of Wichita.

There are few specifics about the kind of building that will replace the current county detention facility, at 1300 Cherry St. in downtown Kansas City. Members of the legislature have been told that the detention center will hold 1,200 beds and will cost at least $266 million.

The new facility is expected to be completed in the fall of 2024, according to the county's timeline. A grand jury report in 2018 found that the detention center was filthy, overcrowded, understaffed and posed many health hazards for inmates and others.

Jackson County Executive Frank White said he placed Troy Schulte, county administrator, with overseeing relocation efforts, which will be managed by a third party “to ensure a fair process.” The county approved spending $240,000 on relocation of the residents, along with a $5,000 stipend to the residents of the 100 mobile homes for other expenses.

“Before today, we couldn’t directly contact the residents of the community,” White said. “But now that we have completed this step, it allows us to reach out immediately to discuss our plans to take care of them appropriately, fairly and respectfully, which is my top priority.”

A consulting group has been working on where to place the new facility, among other issues, since late 2019.

For more information about the detention center project, visit www.jcdetentioncenter.com.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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