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Missouri state Rep. Brandon Ellington, wearing a black hoodie and glasses, sits behind a microphone.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: A Kansas City state representative spotlights poor conditions at a Northwest Missouri correctional facility.

Crossroads Correctional facility in Cameron, Missouri, is still recovering from a violent riot on May 12. In the wake of that uprising, which involved more than 200 inmates, the facility was placed on lockdown. The inmates were denied hot meals and family visits for 4 months. Today, we discussed the conditions inmates are still dealing with. 

Segment 1: Regaining the right to vote is a defining moment of reintegration.

The right to vote is a privilege many Americans take for granted. On this episode, we discuss what regaining the right to vote means to formerly incarcerated individuals.

Segment 1: Local man's shares story behind an American prison riot during the Vietnam War.

50 years have passed since a riot occured at a notorious American military prison in Vietnam. A jail to house not enemy fighters, but American soldiers. On this episode, we learn about a Kansas City native's involvement in the uprising and the meaning behind it. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County has hired one of the biggest providers of jail healthcare in the country to provide service at the downtown jail. However, the company has a history of being sued for poor care.

Over the past ten years, Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) has been sued 108 times in 16 states, according to Justia.com which tracks federal cases online. Several of those lawsuits are in Missouri and Kansas.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Fewer than 20 people showed up to the first of two public meetings inviting community input on the embattled Jackson County jail, which has seen alleged sexual assault, inmate deaths, and bribery schemes.

Jann Coulson — a prison ministry volunteer who works with inmates at the jail — said that's because the public is frustrated to see elected officials trying to fix the jail "stomping over each other's feet."

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Kansas affiliate have filed suit against the Montgomery County Attorney, alleging he failed to follow state law in the use of diversion programs.

The suit was filed Friday with the Kansas Supreme Court, according to a news release from the ACLU. It requests that Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle be required to create written diversion policies and guidelines; provide written notice of diversion programs to defendants charged in Montgomery County, and hold diversion conferences for defendants offered diversion.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City police say a federal law spurred a rape investigation in late May at the Jackson County jail after two detainees were seen alone together.

It came up during a Kansas City council committee meeting Wednesday that the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) sparked the investigation.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, in a strongly worded letter to county legislators, called on them to move administration of the downtown jail from the county executive to the sheriff's office. In the letter, she said the jail is a "stubborn problem" and "it remains one of the most serious problems facing this County."

To help make her case she brought along three members of the county grand jury that wrote a scathing report on the jail, saying it was unsafe, filthy and fiscally mismanaged.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. May 12, 2018, with a felony charge against Jackson County corrections officer.

A grand jury tasked with reviewing the Jackson County Detention Center says the jail's management and the county's administration is responsible for the "systemic failure to address its well-documented problems."

The findings were released Friday in a highly critical, 72-page report detailing chronic issues at the jail of overcrowding, understaffing and poor management of funds. It also recommends measures to better track progress of changes.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Segment 1: Douglas County voters are deciding on a contentious tax increase for jail and mental health services.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A former guard at the Jackson County jail has pleaded guilty to corruption charges for taking a bribe to smuggle cigarettes, cell phones and phone chargers into the downtown jail.

Twenty-six year old Andre Lamonte Dickerson pleaded guilty to two of the four counts against him.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

It's already a challenge to run the Jackson County Jail. It's overcrowded and understaffed. Everything from the elevators to the plumbing needs fixing.

Now, add to that, the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) is $1.7 million in arrears for housing state prisoners in the downtown jail, the most owed to any county in the state.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Today, when mentally ill Kansans land in a psychiatric hospital or behind bars, they lose Medicaid coverage. When they’re freed, the daunting chore of signing up for government health coverage starts from scratch.

Now, a push gaining steam among state lawmakers would merely pause that coverage, keeping care and critical medications ready for mental health patients when they get out.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County jail is a mess. It’s overcrowded, understaffed and from elevators to toilets, there's a lot that’s broken.

Everyone agrees with that. But how to fix it is complicated and fraught with politics.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County Jail Task Force appointed by County Executive Frank White will spend a lot of time looking at alternatives to locking up people.

The panel's first meeting Wednesday had a Jail 101 component. Members heard about how many inmates are in the jail because they can't afford bail, how many have mental illnesses and how jail staff need to keep some inmates away from others.

Jackson County Jail
Jackson County Prosecutor

In a curt and strongly-worded letter, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Monday that she refused her seat on a new jail task force established by County Executive Frank White.

The recent brutal assault of a corrections officer made her change her mind about serving on the task force, Baker wrote, and it’s “clear that action is required immediately” on the embattled jail.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A guard at the Jackson County jail is in critical condition after he was allegedly attacked while on duty, according to court documents.

The unidentified guard was allegedly attacked by 20-year-old Johnny R. Dunlap. Dunlap was charged with first degree assault and armed criminal action and faces up to life in prison if convicted, according to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker.

Jackson County Prosecutor's Office

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and  Sheriff Mike Sharp called a news conference Wednesday to say four inmates in the county jail had been charged with assaulting a corrections officer.

But the news conference turned into the two top law enforcement officials in Jackson County expressing their ongoing frustration with a string of problems at the jail. “Everything is a concern at this point. The whole thing is a concern,” says Baker. “We’re fed up with each of our weeks here at the county being filled with the jail as a problem.”

Kansas Department of Corrections

Inmates turned over a tactical response vehicle, made weapons out of broken pieces of glass and tried to run over a corrections officer with a commandeered cart during a riot Tuesday night at the Norton Correctional Facility in north-central Kansas, according to a copy of the prison's log obtained by KCUR. 

The threat posed by inmates was serious enough that, at one point, responding officers were told to use lethal force if necessary. 

Kansas Department of Corrections

All is quiet Wednesday after a night of rioting at the Norton Correctional Facility about 320 miles west of Kansas City.

The Kansas Department of Corrections (DOC) has moved 100 inmates to other prisons around the state, according to spokesman Samir Arif. Fifty of those inmates were moved to Lansing.

Two staff members suffered minor injuries and were treated on site.

This is one of several uprisings the DOC has had to put down recently. The last disturbance was in July at the prison in El Dorado.

Pixabay - CC

Adam Foss, a former assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Mass., says today's justice system is the same as the one created hundreds of years ago, and it's failing a lot of people. Today, a conversation on how prosecutors can help fix the criminal justice system. Then, we get caught up on the state of organized labor in Missouri and the status of the

Pixabay - CC

Tensions over the Jackson County jail continue to mount. Attorneys for former inmates filed a class-action lawsuit last week that would force authorities to address the detention center's dangerous, dirty conditions. Today, we speak with two Jackson County legislators about what they'd do to improve the facility. Then, we kick off a week full of conversation with presenters from this year's TEDxKC.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Updated 12:05 p.m. Monday

Two corrections officers at the Jackson County Detention Center are among four people charged with involvement in smuggling contraband to inmates.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tom Larson unsealed federal charges Monday, in coordination with a large, early morning search for contraband in the jail. 

Pixabay — Creative Commons

Prisoners from Jackson County have been removed from the Johnson County Jail in Missouri following an outbreak of violence in the facility on Thursday evening.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Thirty years. That's how much experience the trio of actors starring in a new Kansas City Actors Theatre production have ... each. They tell us about the challenges of sustaining an acting career in the Midwest.

Corbis / Flickr-CC

Following allegations that two women were sexually assaulted inside their cells at the Jackson County Jail, Kansas City Mayor Sly James says his patience is wearing thin. 

"However, being impatient doesn't solve the problem," James told KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up To Date.   "We have an investigation going, outside council has been hired by the county and we’re hopeful that that investigation will be swift and conclusive and then that the county will take appropriate action." 

Netflix

Both the podcast Serial and Netflix documentary Making a Murderer have brought unprecedented attention to the work of organizations like the Kansas City-based Midwest Innocence Project.

Founded more than a decade ago at the UMKC Law School, the Project works to exonerate those people its staff believe have been wrongly convicted. 

It's a collaboration that few people saw coming: the Koch Brothers, the ACLU and President Obama working together on a common cause. All three are involved in a push to pass sweeping criminal justice reform this year. We speak with one of the package's key negotiators about what they're trying to achieve.

Guest:

  • Mark Holden is general counsel for Koch Industries.

Jackson County Detention Center

For the children of incarcerated parents, the holidays are stressful enough without Mom or Dad.

That’s why a new program at the Jackson County Detention Center is helping provide Christmas gifts for kids whose mothers are in jail.

“The children of the people incarcerated here, it’s not their fault,” Rev. Gene Purtle, the detention center chaplain, says. “A stigma is often attached to them because of whatever the situation is, and I think it’s awesome that we can show them as jailers and people like myself that are part of the church that we care about them.”

Courtesy photo / Mike Sanders

Outgoing Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders says after Dec. 31, when he formally resigns from his post, he will be out of politics. At least for now. 

When asked Tuesday by KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up To Date whether he would consider ever running for political office again, Sanders closed the door, in a sense, but didn't bang it shut. 

"Not completely, but I don't want to say that door is open any time soon," he said. "I'm not dying, I'm not moving. I'll be around. I would say: in a decade, who knows?" 

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