Officials address concerns over recent escapes
CHARLESTON - Inmates at the Mississippi County Detention Center will soon "get their sunshine through the side of the fence," according to Jim Blumenberg, presiding county commissioner. "We can't have any more escapes. We have to incarcerate them and keep them."
Mississippi County commissioners and Don Chance, jail administrator, discussed security modifications to the jail's outdoor recreation area during Thursday's county commission meeting.
"I got INS guidelines yesterday," said Chance, holding up a CD-ROM disk. Chance also showed a four-inch thick notebook filled with the documents printed from the CD.
Chance said INS guidelines require 1,500 square feet for the outdoor recreation area. Presently the area is about 700 square feet.
"We met the indoor requirements already because of the pods," said Chance.
The main modification, however, will be the addition of a steel roof over the outdoor recreation area. The two Immigration and Naturalization Service prisoners that recently managed to briefly escape did so by getting over the razor-wire top of the chain-link fence.
Chance also briefed commissioners on the daily billing feature of the new jail software. "It helps us track inmates," said Chance. The program tracks data including what agency the prisoner is being held for, how many days they have stayed and a total dollar amount due for holding them among other information.
He estimated more than 3,000 prisoner days in August have been logged already.
Chance also apprised commissioners of his problems with a non-compliant diabetic prisoner.
In other jail news, Blumenberg said the women's dormitory built in what was formerly an indoor recreation area is complete. The dormitory holds 24.
Chance will use the dormitory for non-violent women prisoners, according to Blumenberg.
In other Mississippi County news:
* Martin Lucas, commissioner, said the Fred's chain store is waiting for the Missouri Department of Transportation's approval of their highway access before beginning construction on their facility slated for East Prairie.
* W.R. "Bill" Thompson, assessor, and a deputy assessor will attend the Missouri Assessors Association Advanced Mapping Course scheduled for Sept. 23-28 in Springfield.
* Thompson and other county assessors in Missouri, are finishing up their present term which, unlike other county officers, ends this month.
Those selected or reelected as county assessors in the last election, as Thompson was, will begin their new terms Sept. 4 due to the weekend and Labor Day holiday Monday.
Thompson will be sworn in during a ceremony scheduled for 9:30 Tuesday.
* Junior DeLay, county clerk, updated commissioners on the bond refinancing for the detention center debt.
"Interest rates dropped again in our favor," said DeLay. He estimated the county would now be saving an additional $5,000-$6,000.