Missouri Sheriffs’ Association equips local sheriffs, jail administrators with tools to better serve communities
Jail administrators face a wide variety of challenges as they manage Missouri’s county jails, which range in inmate capacity from five to 500. Combined, they have a total holding capacity of 8,946 inmates.
To provide them, and their sheriffs, with the tools they need to manage their operations effectively, safely, securely, legally and humanely, the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) recently hosted a three-day conference that examined current criminal justice issues, provided training in assessed areas of need and created networking opportunities where participants could learn from each other. This was the second state-wide training conference for jail administrators and their staff and this year’s conference was expanded to include many new topics and learning opportunities.
Those topics included how to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), adopted by Congress in an attempt to stop rape and sexual assault in confinement facilities; how to safely conduct inmate property searches; several issues relating to human resource management; what the law says about inmates’ religious rights; and what’s being done to develop statewide jail standards and a statewide jail record management system.
Currently, Missouri has no set standards or guidelines on how county jails must be managed. Under the MSA’s and jail administrators’ leadership, a committee was formed to develop an action plan that will get the counties’ jails from where they are to where they need to be in order to reduce liability, help avoid lawsuits and reduce insurance premiums. The jail management system will allow sheriffs to electronically tap into or share information on inmates in real time, something that currently is not possible in many county jails.
More than 100, representing 63 counties across the state, attended the event, which also included a large variety of vendor booths featuring goods and services used in the county jails.
"What started as regional meetings of jail administrators and correctional officers two and a half years ago, has grown into our now second state wide training conference. The interested and dedication that our jail administrators have to advance the operations of our many jail facilities is commendable. I would expect to see this group of great men and women continue to train and develop ideas that will advance the operations the county jails throughout the state", said Henry County Sheriff Kent Oberkrom, who serves as president of the MSA.