Overcrowding at the Greene County Jail reached such a tipping point a temporary facility is going up in the parking lot around the corner from the current jail to house the overflow population.

In Wright County, there are no surveillance cameras in the jail cells to monitor inmates who’ve managed to smuggle in lighters and set fires, at least seven in the last few months.

Under-staffing in Lawrence County left deputy jailer Mary McCoy on duty by herself in charge of all the inmates when one of them attacked her in September.

No matter how big or small, county jails strive to overcome daily obstacles by working with what they have, but there’s one big dilemma they can’t solve.

“The state not living up to their responsibility hurts, and it hurts deep,” stated Lawrence County Sheriff Brad Delay.

Delay is one of many sheriffs who’s affected by the Missouri Department of Corrections’ inability to reimburse any jails for housing state inmates for the remainder of the year because the agency’s funding is depleted.

Of the $19 million the state owes to jails throughout Missouri, it’s delinquent by nearly $3 million in half a dozen facilities in southwest Missouri.

According to the sheriffs in the following counties, here’s approximately how the numbers break down.

Barry County Jail: $ 280,962
Christian County Jail: $ 453,000
Greene County Jail: $ 1,400,000
Laclede County Jail: $ 192,000
Lawrence County Jail: $ 300,000
Wright County Jail: $ 79,500

Most of these lockups already operate on bare-bones; they’re overcrowded and understaffed. Without the state paying its portion, the problems could worsen. “We could start seeing less deputies out on the road, less deputies working in the jail. It becomes a huge public safety issue,” explained Delay.

By Paula Morehouse | KY3