Today, the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney issued a grand jury report related to the County’s detention facilities. County officials were first notified that the report had been released when a member of the media contacted the office requesting comment and stated they had received “an advanced copy of the report.”
Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. has issued the following statement in response to the report:
“Jackson County is committed to providing a safe and secure facility for inmates, staff and the entire community. Under the leadership of new Director Diana Turner, the County continues to make significant improvements to the existing facilities and operations. The County strongly disagrees with many characterizations as presented by the Prosecuting Attorney, but we will use this report, as we have with every other opportunity, to grow and better our facilities and operations for this community.
The Prosecuting Attorney is using this report as a political opportunity to point out decades-old problems of deferred maintenance and attribute them to the current administration. Therefore, the County is disappointed with the conclusions reached by the Prosecuting Attorney.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s report appears to be the product of both misinformation and a strong desire to incarcerate more people pre-trial. Widespread issues regarding facility conditions, staff retention and overcrowding persist at detention facilities nationwide. However, issuing redundant reports and finger pointing is not a solution.
Additionally, the factually accurate portions of the Prosecuting Attorney’s report are largely regurgitated from prior evaluations and have been addressed or are in the process of being fixed.
On November 27, 2017, the Prosecuting Attorney sent a letter to me, which stated, in part, ‘Spending more time to further study the overcrowded and unsafe conditions at the detention center is simply inappropriate.’
It is interesting to note that the Prosecuting Attorney’s study of the Department of Corrections was ongoing at the time she made the statement and she continued that study for months after she released the statement above. In addition, while refusing to participate in an open process that involved the community, the Prosecuting Attorney chose to conduct a secretive process where her staff controlled the process and wrote the report.
The problems faced by the County’s detention facilities will require the concerted action of everyone if we are to create sustainable change. These are complex issues and the Department of Corrections initiatives will continue to be evaluated and modified over time, as necessary, to achieve our objectives. We remain deeply committed to leading the efforts to address these problems plaguing facilities across the country.”