State Approves Franklin County Jail Improvements Plan

OZARK (KFSM) -- After much concern about the condition of the Franklin County Jail, county officials are one step closer to finding a permanent solution.

The state Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committee approved a plan submitted by the county after County Judge Rickey Bowman and the Quorum Court examined deficiencies in the jail and discussed ways in which they could be addressed.

"The Quorum Court passed a resolution to bring the jail into compliance and one that we feel the state Detention Review Board would be satisfied with," Justice of the Peace Leslie Davis said. "They said it was a serious and deliberate plan to bring the jail back into compliance."

The Criminal Detention Facilities Review Commission summarized the plan from the Franklin County officials as serious and deliberate.

The jail was built in 1974 and the sheriff's office has faced overcrowding issues for years.

"The jail is housed for 26 prisoners, and sometimes we house 40 to 50 [inmates]," Davis said. "The state board usually doesn't like for you to even have one extra prisoner in there."

Franklin County officials hope to make the jail a safer environment.

"We want the jail to be safe for the employees, as well as the inmates," Davis said.

According to the Quorum Court, a search firm may be hired to explore how much a new jail would cost versus the cost of renovating the current facility.

One of the items listed in the letter to the review committee was a piece of land off Airport Road that the county identified as a potential site for a new jail. Another item mentioned in the letter was hiring a development company to analyze the needs of the jail.

"The review board will come back April 16 to determine what progress has been made and hopefully we have achieved the plan to have a new jail," Davis said.

The letter states the Quorum Court hopes to introduce some kind of proposal for voter approval by the first quarter of 2017.