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Crowded Greene County Jail Faces Budget Cuts

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Dozens of Greene County inmates are being held at the Vernon County Jail instead as part of a housing agreement that will cost $1,200 each day.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Dozens of Greene County inmates are being held at the Vernon County Jail instead as part of a housing agreement that will cost $1,200 each day.

"They have bed space and we're crowded," Sheriff Jim Arnott said.

Arnott said the agreement is Greene County's third inmate housing deal. He said other inmates are being kept in Howell and Taney counties.

The Greene County Jail is already overcrowded -- to make the most of its space, some inmates use portable beds.

"Our jail can hold up to 550. We have about 670 inmates," Arnott said. "Once we get past 600, we're looking for somewhere for them to go."

Arnott said the cost of keeping inmates elsewhere comes from a budget that's already stretched thin.

"It comes out of our general revenue budget, which is extremely small. That is problematic for us when we're looking at our budget, which is what we're doing today after our use tax failed," Arnott said. 

Now, because of the rejected tax, the Sheriff's Office faces a 10 percent cut and must find ways to house more inmates with less funds.

Arnott said the jail isn't crowded because of an increase in crime, but because it's small for the county's size.

"If you look at other areas that are similar in size and population, their jails are 1,000 to 1,200 beds. So our jail is considerably small for our population and for the amount of outstanding warrants," Arnott said. 

Construction to expand the jail simply isn't in the budget, according to Arnott, but his office is looking into ways to allow the current facility to hold more beds.


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