Jail Overcrowding “Public Safety Crisis” According to County Leaders

overcrowding crisis

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. — Greene County leaders say jail overcrowding is now at a critical point after a deputy was attacked over the weekend.

Jesus Araiza, an inmate at the jail, was charged with first-degree assault after he allegedly attacked Deputy Tyler Dodson.

At one point, Araiza was able to take the deputy’s handcuffs and beat him so furiously that they broke.

Dodson suffered serious injuries– but according to a news release, he returned to work Tuesday afternoon.

Greene County Commissioners and Sheriff Jim Arnott are pushing for the city’s help in responding to Springfield’s increasing crime rate.

“We now find ourselves at a critical crossroads,” said Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin.  “In what is truly a public safety crisis”

As Springfield’s crime rate increases, so does the number of inmates needing to be housed in the Greene County Jail.

“When the crime rate is up in the city of Springfield, so is the jail population,” said Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

Crime stats show in the first quarter of this year, Springfield’s crime rate rose by ten percent.

“These numbers obviously drive up our jail population,” Arnott said.

Problems of over-crowding were first brought to light more than a decade ago.

“We have to act to maintain the public safety of our citizens,” said Cirtin.  “And to keep the region’s economy growing.”

County leaders say the issue needs to be addressed with the help of the city.

“I applaud the Springfield Police Department for its good work and continued fight on crime,” said Arnott.  “However, we need to partner together to put people in jail.”

Recently, the county proposed partnering with the city for a temporary jail facility.

“We recognize resources are limited for the city and county,” said Cirtin.  “But we also believe public safety is our fiscal priority and we can’t afford not to respond to this crisis.”

The proposal would include a cost-share on a temporary jail facility to house municipal offenders and inmates.  The city would pay $3 million as part of the agreement.

“At this time, we have not received any communication from Springfield City Council regarding the proposal,” said Cirtin.

As far as taxpayers go, Sheriff Arnott says a Springfield resident pays $14.47 per person per year.  A resident of an un-incorporated area of Greene County pays almost two times that– $34.66 per person per year.

Right now, the ratio of correctional officers to inmates in a pod at the Greene County Jail is roughly 2 to 220.  A correct ratio, according to the Sheriff, would be 1 correctional officer to 48 inmates.

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