Monday, October 31, 2016

Springfield businessman: Proposal will leave homeless, indigent, mentally ill roaming streets of Joplin

A critic of a plan to ship Springfield municipal prisoners to the Joplin City Jail accused the Springfield City Council of hiding some major problems.

"We're not being honest with the people of Joplin," businessman Tim Havens (pictured) said during a public hearing on the emergency measure, which the council approved unanimously Monday night.

The prisoners will come to Joplin, but they may not be returning to Springfield, Havens said. "Our agreement should spell out that there is no ride home. Tell it like it is. There is no ride home.

"This will leave the homeless, the indigent, possibly the mentally ill people on the streets of Joplin.

"Is this moral? Do we not have concern for Joplin people?"

Havens' suggestion of raising the $50 a day per prisoner to $75 to cover the cost of a bus ticket back to Springfield was harshly criticized by Councilman Craig Hosmer.

"I'd rather spend our money on low income people that haven't violated the law in the city of Springfield rather than paying for transportation services for people who habitually violate the law, don't come to court, don't show up when they're supposed to and then we're expected to take them to jail and bring them back home."

Havens said he had talked to four Joplin City Council members, none of whom had heard of the jail proposal.

In presenting the proposal to the council, Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams indicated Joplin would receive a higher grade of prisoners, noting that they would be mostly people who had failed to appear for court dates.

Springfield does not have a municipal jail and has not been allowed to use the Greene County Jail since April 2015. 

The deal with Joplin is not a cure all of Springfield's ills, Williams said. "This absolutely does not solve our problem. The city had been sending about 25 prisoners a day to Miller and Taney counties, but has far more prisoners than that and has been forced to release many on their own recognizance.

The City of Joplin is scheduled to take up the proposal, which sets a maximum of $100,000, during its Monday, November 7, meeting.

(The portion of the City Council meeting devoted to the Joplin proposal begins at about the 34 minute mark.)

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