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New Greene County jail is ready for occupancy; staff to move in first week of May

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - On Friday, the new Greene County jail got its certificate of occupancy paperwork to officially allow it to open for business.

And while officials won’t say when inmates will be moved to the new facility because of security reasons, they did say that employees will start moving into their new digs starting on May 2.

The new $150 million Greene County Sheriff’s Office is located on Division Street just across from the Springfield-Branson National Airport’s radar system and a cow pasture. Next door to the jail 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 facility located downtown that got so packed that temporary modular homes had to be brought in to house the overflow.

“The current facility was designed to hold 600,” said Greene County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Paige Rippee. “We have 900. This new one is designed to hold 1,242.”

The new jail has 20 separate pods that hold between 24-56 people in each pod.

“For security purposes we essentially have created a unit to where anything that the inmates need to do, whether it’s programs, visitations, or attorney visits, they will do it inside the pod,” Rippee explained.

The cells are also built to try and prevent inmates from self-harming.

“All the corners (of the beds and tables) have been shaved-off to where they’re rounded,” Rippee pointed out. “The same thing for the clothes hangers. We have these clips (attached to the wall) where they can hang their clothes but if there’s any kind of weight put on them if they try to do self-harm, they just come straight down.”

Besides the pods that hold two-or-four inmates per cell, there are also eight dorm rooms with bunk beds that are open to the rest of the room which has tables and multiple toilets and sinks.

“The inmates that would be housed in this type of unit would be lower classification misdemeanors,” Rippee said.

Inmates will arrive at the facility and be taken into the building through a secured covered garage in the back. They will then go to a booking area that has a number of holding cells including some isolation rooms where the bathroom is nothing more than a drain in the floor that flushes.

One of the more interesting rooms has hundreds of garment bags mounted on a revolving conveyor rack like the kind you’d see at a dry cleaning store.

“It’s our inmate property room,” Rippee said. “All their clothing and any type of belongings that are not too big we’ll hold onto until they’re released.”

With the jail no longer next door to the courts building, the new facility also has an entire section of rooms devoted to videoconferencing between the inmates and the courtrooms downtown.

“This would just be for arraignments, preliminary hearings, things like that,” Rippee pointed out.

During the trial itself inmates will be transported downtown, kept in the old jail during down time, and then brought back to the new jail at the end of the day.

The building also includes a massive kitchen that serves over 1,200 meals three times-a-day plus new offices for the sheriff’s department and a separate building for evidence and training.

The expansive training area includes a classroom setting for around a hundred people and it will be used for a new law enforcement academy coming soon

There’s also a work-out area that the department did not previously have on-site and there’s even a place for the K-9 officers complete with stainless steel dog washer basins.

The new facility also includes a full-service medical unit.

“We have a dentist on-site two-days-a-week to do any type of dental treatment,” Rippee said. “And we have a negative-pressure room so if any inmate contracts tuberculosis they would be housed in here.”

While everything is almost ready to go, the department still does not have all of the 400 detention officers it needs to be fully-staffed.

“We still have 75 positions currently open,” Rippee said. “We’re still discussing how we’re going to fill the pods and how many officers are going to be in there but we will still function properly. It will still be safe. We are taking care of 900 inmates now and will just be moving them to a new place. We’ll still have to insure the safety and security of the inmates just as our number one priority always is.”

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