SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The new Greene County Jail received its certificate of occupancy on Friday to officially allow it to open its doors.
And while officials won’t say when inmates will be moved to the new facility for security reasons, they said staff will begin moving into their new digs starting May 2.
The new $150 million Greene County Sheriff‘s Office is located on Division Street, directly across from the Springfield-Branson National Airport radar system and a cow pasture. Next to the prison is a cemetery.
The 23-acre complex includes 325,000 square feet of jail space, 62,000 square feet devoted to the sheriff’s office, and 22,000 square feet in a separate building that houses evidence and training facilities.
The new jail replaces an overcrowded downtown facility that was so crowded that temporary modular homes had to be installed to house the overflow.
“The current facility was designed to accommodate 600 people,” said Paige Rippee, public information officer for the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. “We have 900. This new one is designed to hold 1,242.”
The new prison has 20 separate modules that can accommodate between 24 and 56 people in each module.
“For security reasons, we have basically created a unit where everything the inmates need to do, whether it is programs, visits or visits from lawyers, they will do it inside the module” , Rippee explained.
Cells are also built to try to prevent inmates from self-harming.
“All the corners (of the beds and tables) have been shaved off where they are rounded,” Rippee pointed out. “The same for hangers. We have these clips (attached to the wall) where they can hang their clothes, but if they are put under any kind of weight if they try to self-harm they go straight down.
Besides the pods which hold two or four inmates per cell, there are also eight dormitories with bunk beds which are open to the rest of the room which has tables and several toilets and sinks.
“Inmates who would be housed in this type of unit would be lower classified offenses,” Rippee said.
Inmates will arrive at the facility and be taken into the building through a secure covered garage at the rear. They will then proceed to a reservation area which includes a number of holding cells, including isolation rooms where the bathroom is nothing more than a drain in the floor that flushes.
One of the most interesting rooms contains hundreds of garment bags mounted on a rotating conveyor rack like the one you would see in a dry cleaning store.
“This is our inmate property room,” Rippee said. “All their clothes and any type of personal effects that are not too big, we will keep until they are released.”
With the jail no longer next to the courthouse, the new facility also has an entire section of rooms devoted to video conferencing between inmates and downtown courtrooms.
“It would only be for arraignments, preliminary hearings, things like that,” Rippee pointed out.
During the trial itself, inmates will be transported downtown, kept in the old prison during downtime, and then returned to the new prison at the end of the day.
The building also includes a massive kitchen that serves more than 1,200 meals three times a day, as well as new offices for the sheriff’s department and a separate building for evidence and training.
The large training area includes a classroom for around 100 people and will soon be used for a new law enforcement academy.
There’s also a training area the department didn’t previously have on-site and there’s even a place for K-9 officers with stainless steel dog wash basins.
The new facility also includes a full-service medical unit.
“We have a dentist on site two days a week to perform any type of dental treatment,” Rippee said. “And we have a negative pressure room, so if an inmate gets TB they will be housed here.”
While everything is nearly ready to go, the department still doesn’t have all the 400 detention officers it needs to be fully staffed.
“We still have 75 positions currently open,” Rippee said. “We are still discussing how we will fill the modules and how many officers will be there, but we will continue to operate properly. It will always be safe. We are currently dealing with 900 detainees and we will simply move them to a new location. We will always have to ensure the safety and security of detainees, just as our number one priority has always been. »
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