NEWPORT, ARKANSAS (KAIT)
The problem has grown so bad, this weekend the jail farmed out two-dozen inmates to other facilities... At a cost to taxpayers!
Last Friday 25 inmates were sent to the White County jail in Searcy. Most of those were actually inmates waiting for beds at state facilities.
Jackson County Sheriff David Lucas says overcrowding is everywhere. "This problem is everywhere everybody has problems with overcrowding and bed space."
As age goes the Jackson County jail isn't really that old just under 30 years. But it's small, too small really, shipping out inmates to other facilities is just a temporary fix.
Lucas, "I've got 26 farmed out, got 25 at White county, 1 at Poinsett and I've got 29 in house which I might add is over capacity. My capacity is 26."
Sheriff Lucas says it's unusual to be able to send 25 inmates to one jail.
And these other jails don't take these inmates for free, besides bed space Sheriff Lucas has to shop prices.
"I've had price ranges from 30 dollars up to 45 dollars."
Unfortunately the 30 dollar jail had no beds available. So the cost to the taxpayers is running a little over 11 hundred per day and Lucas says this jail can hold them as long as necessary or until it needs beds for it's own inmates.
Sheriff Lucas says he would like to have a 48 bed extension built on. He could probably get it built for around 800 thousand. Quorum Court member Jim Cooper says that's just the beginning.
Cooper, "If they had the 800 thousand to build onto the jail. It would still cost another 200 thousand to man it. So you're talking about a million dollars."
A million dollars Cooper says the county just doesn't have.
"We're a poor county, we need some revenue and we're just not getting it."
The jail has been under probation for quite a while. It's next review comes up in September.
Lucas says he has to keep the population down by farming inmates out. Hopefully that will keep the doors open. But at a cost to taxpayers.
"It's going to be at a great cost to the county taxpayers because we are going to have to send them to other counties like the 25 we sent to White county."
I asked Sheriff Lucas if he thought the jail would close.
After a lot of thought he said he hoped not.
It will be up to the jail revue committee in september to make that decision.