KC considers closing archaic detention center

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) — Kansas City officials are considering closing a dilapidated detention center that has not seen many improvements since it was built in 1939.

The center houses old metal bunks, steel toilets between those bunks and grimy concrete floors. It houses people arrested on a city ordinance violation or warrant, or those arrested on a 24-hour state hold for more serious crimes, The Kansas City Star reported.
Kansas City officials want to close the center on the eighth floor of the police department building this year and move the detainees to a nearby Jackson County Regional Correctional Center, which was built in 1984.
“It’s modern and clean. It’s a different atmosphere,” said Police Maj. Eric Winebrenner, the police liaison to City Manager Troy Schulte.
The City Council would have to approve the plan but council members are supportive, said Mike Schumacher, assistant to the city manager.
Kansas City Police Headquarters is undergoing a $40 million renovation but no work is being done on the eighth floor. Schumacher said the city has always planned to close the detention unit but no details have been worked out. City officials said it would take $5 million or more to make the current facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In 2009, a Municipal Correctional Institution was closed and space for 150 city inmates was created at Jackson County’s Regional Correctional Center. The new plan would expand that to 275 beds, for up to 100 detainees and 25 additional city inmates.
The expanded capacity will require some modifications to the county facility, with an estimated cost of less than $1 million, said Ken Conlee, Jackson County corrections director.
Moving the detainees also would allow the police department to reassign about 40 staff members to newer police stations that have modern holding facilities but no money for staff. Detainees could then be taken to those stations spread across the city, rather than having to be transported downtown.
Schumacher said he hopes the deal is finalized in the next few months and that a move from the facility is complete by October.