Regional jail could be a possibility

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) – Overcrowding is a growing problem for county jails across Region 8.  Now several counties are considering teaming up to build one jail.

"We have some major problems with overcrowding," said Lawrence County Sheriff Dan Ellison.

The Lawrence County jail is just one example of a facility with problems.  Years of overcrowding has led a group of counties to discuss their common futures.

"Try to find out what the problems are, how we are going to resolve the problems and what we can do about the problems," said Ellison.

On Thursday seventy warrants were issued but Lawrence County Sheriff Dan Ellison said with 46 prisoners already in a jail that has a capacity for 42 there just isn't room for more people.

"Unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it we are running always over capacity," said Ellison.

Now the sheriff and county judge from Lawrence County will be meeting with representatives from Randolph, Clay, Sharp, and Jackson counties to discuss the possibilities of building a regional jail.

"If there is a possibility that there could be some cooperation between some of the counties it may be that we could have a facility," said Ellison.

Ellison said there is a big difference between spending a few hundred thousand dollars to expand an old facility and spending millions to build a new jail. 

"Crime is not going to quit and we're going to do what we've sworn to do and that's enforce the law," said Ellison.

He said economically it would make more sense for the counties to come together to build one jail than for each county to build a new jail on their own.

"I think it is a possibility," said Ellison.

The meeting will take place Wednesday, August 25th at Captain Catfish in Walnut Ridge at 11 a.m.

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