Laws to be put in place in Missouri's private jails.
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Laws to be put in place in Missouri's private jails.

Date: March 17, 2009
By: Lauren Mickler
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: When you think of a jail, you typically think strict rules and high security, but Missouri has two private jails that don't have any rules at all. 

Lauren Mickler (MIKE-ler) has more from Jefferson City. 

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Imagine a jail with no rules... well stop dreaming because there are two in Missouri that don't, but Missouri lawmakers are trying to change that.

A private jail is just like any other, except it's privately owned instead of overseen by the government.

Missouri's two private jails are in Johnson and Harrison Counties, and are mainly used to hold overflow from other state prisons, but neither of these are subject to Missouri law.

The sponsor of the Senate bill, Warrensburg Republican David Pearce, says people can't believe it.

 
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Description: "When you tell them there's no regulations for private jails, people are shocked. 'What do you mean there's no regulations, no rules?' and there's really not. For example when the people from Johnson County jail escaped last August.. it's not even a crime to escape from a private jail."
 
Last August there was a breakout at the jail in Johnson County, but local law enforcement had no jurisdiction in the matter. Community safety was a huge concern.
 
Republican Representative Casey Guernsey is from Bethany, where one of the jails is located, and though there haven't been any problems there, he says he can understand being nervous.
 
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Description: "My family lives actually about a mile from this private jail, and so if they weren't a good citizen and a good neighbor, it would be very concerning, especially when you hear about these runaways."
 
Both the House and Senate legislation identify safety in and around these jails as a main goal of their bills.
 
From the State Capitol, I'm Lauren Mickler.