What to do with Missouri's abandoned prisons?

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What to bash with Missouri’s abandoned prisons? One lawmaker has an answer

Tornado damages aged  Missouri State Penitentiary

The aged Missouri State Penitentiary successful Jefferson City was damaged by a tornado connected May 22. 

Jack Suntrup

JEFFERSON CITY — An abandoned situation sits connected a bluff overlooking the Missouri River northbound of the state’s superior city.

Shuttered successful 2004, the Central Missouri Correctional Center is surrounded by a information obstruction topped with razor ligament that keeps radical retired nowadays, alternatively than in.

In Cameron, to the west, different abandoned situation awaits a determination connected what volition hap to it aft it was shuttered successful 2019 owed to a driblet successful the fig of situation inmates and the scarcity of radical wanting to enactment successful prisons successful the region.

The bare facilities person go a interest for astatine slightest 1 Missouri lawmaker, who said the authorities should person a amended program to either merchantability oregon repurpose state-owned existent property truthful the unused facilities don’t go an eyesore.

“We should person a program for aboriginal use. Or we should person a program for liquidation,” said Rep. Randy Railsback, R-Hamilton.

Under authorities filed by Railsback and heard successful a House committee Tuesday, a task unit would beryllium established to reappraisal surplus spot and however overmuch it is costing to support it successful its “mothball” state.

At the abandoned Central Missouri Correctional Center, the authorities has converted a workplace information of the installation into a conservation country successful the bottomlands of the Missouri River valley.

Up top, however, a premix of situation buildings — from cellblocks to cafeterias — beryllium empty. Some graffiti has appeared connected the walls, but the installation remains mostly intact.

At the Crossroads Correctional Center, Railsback praised plans by Gov. Mike Parson to person a information of the installation into a grooming halfway for situation guards.

But adjacent that program is dilatory successful coming.

Parson asked for much than $650,000 past twelvemonth to commencement the grooming grounds, but the program has not gotten disconnected the ground, said Missouri Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann.

Even if the installation does statesman operating, Railsback said determination are different imaginable uses for the sprawling site.

“It has tons of unused buildings,” Railsback told members of the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee.

Among imaginable uses nether information is simply a determination region jailhouse oregon arsenic a tract to movie situation scenes.

“We request to bash something,” Railsback said. “You’re not going to alteration a situation into a motel.”

Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, expressed enactment for the idea, saying his hometown continues to grapple with the bequest of the historical Missouri State Penitentiary conscionable blocks from the Capitol.

The monolithic aged situation was shuttered successful 2004 and parts of it are utilized for tours. But, aft a 2019 tornado, immoderate of the remaining buildings beryllium unrepaired.

Efforts by Jefferson City officials to make the country astir the aged situation person not yielded dividends yet.

Rep. Mike Henderson, R-Desloge, said the task unit could assistance the medication get escaped of unused properties.

“We’re astir apt burning done taxation dollars that could beryllium utilized for different purposes,” Henderson said.

The task unit would beryllium composed of members of the House and Senate and representatives from the governor’s office.

The sheet would person to taxable a program by September 2023 outlining what should beryllium done with each property, arsenic good arsenic backing recommendations.

The authorities is House Bill 1757.

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