Population Now 1,340
April 30, 2015
Catherine Stortz Ripley (CT)
The City of Chillicothe is exploding in population. How is that happening when the census is 4
1/2 years away in 2020? Earlier this week, the city learned that the population count at the Chillicothe Correctional Center had reached its highest level since moving to the $121 million facility at the north city limit more than six years ago. Warden Alana C. Boyles told city officials on Monday that the population of women housed at the facility was at a high of 1,340. The warden reported that the population count varies daily, but it had been on a rapid increase in the past two or three years and in reaching the current level they were working with the Department of Corrections to open the final of eight housing wings in the very near future.
An example of growth in coming to the new correctional center from the old prison is shown by an increase of 853 women inmates from December 2008 to the last week of April 2015. The middle of the night transfer from the old facility on West Third Street to the new facility at the north edge of the city involved 487 women. Opening the last wing of the facility soon will allow 200 additional women to be housed at the
CCC. "When we fill the new units, we will be at our capacity of 1,740
inmates," said Boyles.
The warden also said the facility will be adding to its employment numbers, which currently stands around 450.
"We will probably be adding around 25 more employees which will bring us up to
475." The total number employed at the old prison before the move was around 250. That equates to an increase of 225 more employees than they had at the old prison.
The rising number of women inmates being sentenced to prison has brought about the additional population and it apparently is going to continue to grow. Fortunately, the state owns additional property to the southeast and south of the present facility and would, if funds were authorized by the General Assembly, be able to expand its current facility. There are only two
women's correctional centers in the state with the other located at Vandalia.
Much of the increase in recent years in women being sentenced to prison comes from drug and alcohol abuse, according to information from court records. Meanwhile there is much to be done in preparing the new wing for 200 additional women as well as some work on the outside area surrounding the unit.
While the addition of women at the correctional center will bring it to capacity, it will also mean in the future many changes in the operation of the city government of Chillicothe.
The city of Chillicothe is currently under the Charter form of government, one of only five remaining in the state. Special charters were granted back in the late 1800s to some cities. The Charter goes away automatically when any city surpasses 10,000 in population. However, those changes cannot occur until the next census in about 4
1/2 years, unless the city would choose to call for a special early census to be taken. That probably would not occur because of the cost involved. According to Robert Cowherd, the
city's employed legal counsel, it is expensive to call for a special census to be taken at any time besides the normal census that is done for each city and town every 10 years. There are a number of state statutes that deal with the special charter cities and for what occurs when cities reach 10,000 that are operating under a special charter. If there was a census taken today and based on the population for Chillicothe in the 2010 census of 9,515 persons, our city would show an unofficial population of 10,368. If the growth continues at the correctional center and it reaches its capacity before or by 2020 of 1,740 the population for Chillicothe would be 10,568. If there is growth or annexation of areas currently outside the city limit, it would be an even higher number.
Just for the record, Chillicothe and Livingston County were one of only two cities and counties showing an increase in population in the 2010 census in Northwest Missouri. Buchanan County and St. Joseph was the other.