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Mid-Missouri sheriff pans state plan to downsize prison system


In the State of the State address last week, Gov. Mike Parson announced a plan to downsize Missouri prison systems.

"We've identified a plan to consolidate the operations at Crossroads and Western Missouri facilities in Cameron, Missouri," Parson said. "This decision is largely driven by our dedication to find efficiencies where we can in state government, and this can be done while ensuring safety, improving security and delivering a much-needed pay raise all being done with no layoffs."

But Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller wrote in a letter to Audrain County residents that this downsizing will put criminals in a prison system that is unable to hold them accountable.

"I'm telling you the state of affairs that our justice system is ... no laughing matter," Oller said in his Facebook post. "I'm furious by the fact that our local courts hand down sentences for crimes committed against our residents and our communities and Jefferson City basically thumbs their noses at them by refusing to carry out sentences handed down to criminals, and this only serves to make it worse."

Oller expressed his concern that offenders' sentences will not be upheld and the parole system will not punish violators.

"The incentive for good behavior on parole is not going back to prison," Oller said. "Now that's not even an incentive because offenders know they're not going back."

Oller said new laws could provide a solution to this problem. He suggested legislators enforce "truth in sentencing," which would have offenders stay in prison for the term in which the court originally sentenced them.

Karen Pojmann, communications director for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said the plan is not taking away any beds in Missouri prisons that are being used. Pojmann said the plan will get rid of existing positions that are already vacant within the DOC.

"No prison closures or facility consolidations are included in this plan," Pojmann said. "Closing housing units reduces staffing needs and enables the department to more effectively and efficiently staff all facilities."

Pojmann also noted that offenders are spending more time in prison.

"The percentage of an original sentence the average offender serves has increased slightly, from 50 percent in fiscal year 2015 to 53 percent in fiscal year 2020," Pojmann said. "The contention that offenders are being released earlier than they were in the past is false."

Audrain / Governor of Missouri / Missouri / Missouri Politics / News
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Molly Stawinoga

Molly Stawinoga is ABC 17’s weekday morning anchor and a reporter at ABC 17 News. Molly joined the news team in 2017 while studying political science, journalism and Spanish at the University of Missouri. She is originally from DeKalb, Illinois.



  1. Maybe he should visit with wheatley and then they can come to a conclusion about why the state thinks local sheriff departments are a joke and most of their convictions should be overturned. Start with the fact that Thug Life Wheatly and his band of thug wanna be deputies like to strong arm married socker moms and bully them on the side of the highway, scaring the daylights out of the children in the car. I bet fifty bucks they wouldn’t pull that with the husband in the car but these women out by themselves give these guys the opportunity to show the world who’s really in charge!!

    These deputies and sheriff departments are nothing but a joke and the state knows it.

    1. I guess what I’m saying is we basically have the equivalent of DOC corrections officers out patrolling the streets and they and their eleven bucks an hour have a LEGAL RIGHT TO SHOOT YOU. I don’t know about you guys but at least the meth heads leave my family alone and don’t have a legal right to kill me. This is sickening that this is what law enforcement has become. And these thugs have the nerve to pick a fight with the elected mayor of California that PEOPLE LIKE. yup, we like the mayor and we like or city PD but we’re sick of this pathetic sheriff department bullying us around. I know a half dozen people who have had first hand encounters with these scum bags exercising their “authority” for no reason other than to make sure they know they have it. This has to stop!!

          1. Your comments are insulting and obviously personal. It sure sounds like you have a prejudice against local enforcement much like criminals do.

  2. I read the words of the sheriff and I thought. Several things came to my head, Missouri was asking for two more prisons at 52 million dollars to the tax payer. If the current population for incarceration continued to grow. Our Governor asked for reform. Ideas. Missouri supreme court mandate bail bond rule. No nonviolent person will take up space while awaiting court because they can not pay a bond. That rule was to eleviate our jail population and to allow violent offenders to remain incarcerated. To lessen the workload of the guards and jailers. To reduce the spending of tax money on housing nonviolent offenders. This has not been carried out and intact it seems to be a joke on society. I have watched the news closely for the past year. I have seen murder, rape, robbery with a weapon, drugs money kidnapping human trafficking out of state offenders, assault with a weapon all released back into society. While my daughter Georgie Wilbers nonviolent offender has remained a burden to the tax payer in Miller county jail I quit counting after four days on no bond waiting for her chance to be seen by a judge, unfortunately that never happens. She doesn’t want a plea bargain so she is being persecuted and broken until she takes the plea. I need to refigure her days of incarceration as we are now approaching five hundred days. I have a different side of our judicial system. The reason to not trust in our law authority and the ease to which we are lied to. Nobody is watching or cares if our basic constitutional rights are being enforced or walked on. Legislation needs to not pass any new rules or laws. They need to ensure that the rules the laws that have been fought to win are being followed.

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