Cape Girardeau County leaders take next step to expand overcrowded jail

Leaders in Cape Girardeau County tackle the issue of an aging, overcrowded county jail.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 6:03 PM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 3:16 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Leaders in Cape Girardeau County took the next step in deciding whether to expand the overcrowded county jail.

County commissioners approved a motion on Thursday morning, May 5 that will allow companies to offer up possible design options.

Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson called the possibility of expanding the jail a big decision, and said there’s no specific timeline or dollar amount being discussed.

As the sheriff told us Wednesday night, the jail consistently holds more inmates than it’s designed for and both sections of the jail need repairs.

The jail administrator told us he’s got inmates sleeping on the floor and cell doors that won’t lock.

“When you’ve only got so many slots to put people and you’re overflowing it makes it very challenging,” said Cape County Jail Administrator Richard Rushin.

Rushin said the jail often runs beyond maximum capacity.

“Our jail’s built to hold 218 inmates and, currently, we have about 265 on average; and last year we’ve been over 300,” said Rushin.

Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson explained the constant overcrowding leads to more problems.

“It’s harder to classify inmates, it’s harder to keep inmates that are not supposed to be housed in the same unit together to keep those inmates apart,” Sheriff Dickerson said.

And it’s also costing the county more money.

“The more space we need for the people, the more supplies we need. We need the uniforms, the bedding, the mattresses,” said Sheriff Dickerson.

The Cape Girardeau County Jail is actually two buildings combined into one. The older section is more than 40 years old and what’s called the new section is more than 20 years old.

Sheriff Dickerson said both buildings need repairs, from toilets that don’t flush to security and cells doors that don’t lock.

Copyright 2022 KFVS. All rights reserved.