Cole County Jail Problems
Cole County and Jefferson City officials want to extend a half-cent sales tax for capitol improvements and add another half-cent sales tax to either the August or November ballot. The additional tax revenue would go toward building a new jail.
"It would cost more, believe it or not, to bring that one up to standard than it would to build a new one," said James Lepage, Cole County auditor.
Lepage says the current jail is too small to even hold the 50 prisoners who are inside. He says some of them are sleeping on cots in the recreation room because there aren't enough beds.
And others agree.
"One of the big issues is the locking system," said Clyde Angle, Jefferson City resident. "I believe the locking system was patented in the 1800s, and it's a mechanical system, so if the key breaks or the mechanical device breaks and there's a fire, those poor souls, they have no chance of getting out."
But building a new jail would cost $18 million. The tax money would be enough to purchase a new jail and more law enforcement, generating about $5.5 million a year.
Lepage says the county would have to take out a loan for the jail. Officials plan to continue discussing the options and whether the taxes will appear on the August or November ballot.