There are no federal prisoners housed at the Franklin County Jail, and it is a rare circumstance that prisoners from other counties stay at the Union facility.

That is according to Sheriff Steve Pelton in response to criticism of the overpopulation at the detention center.

He explained that there is one inmate in Franklin County from another county, Crawford, due to a conflict there. However, Franklin County exchanged a prisoner who now is housed in Crawford County.

“If there is a conflict, we trade off,” Pelton said. “It doesn’t matter what the name is, we trade one inmate for another.”

He added that one day this week, there were 148 prisoners at the jail. None of the inmates were there for charges that originated in municipalities within the county.

According to Pelton, the county houses, at most, four inmates on municipal charges, at one time. However there generally are just one or two.

Another comment he has heard, is that the county houses federal prisoners, increasing the head count at the jail. He explained that the county has not held federal prisoners in over 20 years.

Jail overcrowding is one of two goals behind the Proposition P, which would authorize Franklin County to impose a new half-cent tax on all retail sales.

If successful, Prop P is expected to generate about $6 million annually. One-half of the proceeds are expected to be distributed to municipalities and the sheriff’s office based on the percentage of their commissioned law enforcement officers as of Jan. 1, 2018.

The other half is proposed to go to Franklin County to be used for additions and renovations to the county jail and 911 dispatching center. Those improvements are expected to cost about $30 million.

According to Pelton, a goal in expanding the county jail is to meet the mandates of several oversight groups.

Plans include an extensive addition and floor plan redesign of the existing jail, dispatch center and sheriff’s department offices.

A needs assessment of the detention center conducted last year by Navigate Building Solutions factored in crime trends, average length of stay, average daily population and industry standards.

Standards at the county jail are mandated by the American Correctional Association (ACA), the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and the Missouri Sheriff’s Association.

According to Pelton, failure to meet the standards opens the county up to liability issues which lead to litigation.

The ACA standard for inmates is 25 square feet of “unencumbered space in a multi-person cell.” The proposed jail expansion is designed to meet this standard, not exceed it.

The expansion also would increase the number of long-term beds from 130 to 250.

The current facility is designed for 130 inmates but averages 149 per day with an average length of stay of 11.5 days.

Last year there were 4,724 inmates processed. This is an increase from 2016 and it’s expected to increase again in 2018, Pelton said.

By Gregg Jones | Missourian