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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Springfield City Council voted on March 21 to allocate up to $500,000 to house inmates in Miller and Taney County detention facilities, as a temporary solution to a long-standing disagreement with the Greene County Sheriff over the housing of municipal prisoners.
Both agreements are for a one-year term and will be paid with carryover funds from the City’s fiscal year 2015 budget.
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott stopped accepting municipal offenders from Springfield and other Greene County cities on April 3, 2015. Since that time, 3,945 people have been released on their own recognizance (ROR’d) on 5,683 Springfield warrants alone.
Springfield officials have been researching alternative jail space for many months, but until now, inmate transport to other facilities had not been feasible because of the time required to take two officers off their beats to transport an offender to an out-of-county facility.
Recently, Miller County offered to include inmate transport in their $38/day housing cost agreement.
“Taking two of our officers of the streets to transport an offender out of town to be detained was simply not an option I wanted to consider,” Chief Williams explained. “These officers are needed in our city, ensuring public safety.”
Without a jail option, municipal offenders are cited and released by the arresting officer, or after appearing before a judge, and issued a Municipal Court date. This pattern is often repeated multiple times without the ability to prosecute offenders in a timely manner, or at all.
Municipal judges and municipal prosecutors are also left with no ability to sentence a municipal offender to jail, said Springfield Municipal Court Judge Todd Thornhill.
Meanwhile, the City’s lawsuit, seeking a declaratory judgment on the Sheriff’s contractual requirement to accept municipal prisoners according to the 1997 agreement, is still pending.
“The City continues to be interested and willing to negotiate with Greene County to develop a long-term solution to this community-wide problem” said City Manager Greg Burris.
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For media information, contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, at 417-380-3352 or CScott@springfield.mo.gov..