Overcrowding in the Greene County Jail has left Springfield in an ongoing struggle to find places to house people charged with municipal offenses.

In about two months, Taney County will stop housing municipal inmates from Springfield.

Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell told the Springfield News-Leader that the jail in Forsyth is not set up to handle the large number of municipal inmates coming from Springfield and that the practice will stop in 60 days.

“We don’t have the room for it,” Russell said.

Springfield began shipping its municipal inmates to Miller and Taney counties in May. Miller County terminated its contract with Springfield in August.

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams called Taney County’s decision “disappointing but not unexpected.”

“Conceivably, in 60 days, we go back to where we were before,” Williams said. “We did that for a year. We could be there again. It is what it is.”

For nearly a year, Springfield police had no way of locking municipal inmates up because Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott effectively barred suspects arrested on municipal charges from the local jail, which he said is overcrowded. He said he would rather not house municipal inmates, which are people arrested in Springfield for charges in connection with the violation of municipal laws, usually less serious charges like trespassing or stealing.

City officials said having no access to a jail took away an important tool to enforce laws and to deter repeat offenders.

Tension between Springfield and Greene County led to an ongoing lawsuit. A judge could clear up conflicts such as whether Springfield has a right to the jail and if it should pay Greene County for access.

Williams and Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens traveled to Joplin last week to make an appeal to that city council to house Springfield inmates at the Joplin City Jail for $50 a day per inmate. The proposal was denied.

SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER

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