By Sylvia Maria Gross
KANSAS CITY, MO – The head of Kansas City's municipal jail says that Mayor Mark Funkhouser's proposal to close the institution could also eliminate unique services for drug addicts and the mentally ill. The mayor has said the facility costs the city almost $5 million a year.
The Municipal Corrections Institution houses an average of 180 inmates at a time. That includes detainees awaiting trial and those sentenced for committing some drug-related offenses, stealing and driving with a suspended license. The majority of inmates at the city jail have problems with drugs and alcohol, mental health and homelessness. Director Nancy Leazer says that if the jail were privatized, it would be ineligible for the grants that fund health care and job training programs.
"I believe completely in alternatives to jail. This is a population that has mostly burned their bridges with other organizations if they have even sought them out," Leazer said.
Funkhouser has said that the facility's primary function could be handled more efficiently by the Jackson County Detention Center.