County jail on 6 month probation

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – Two weeks ago we told you about an effort to build a regional jail to help take pressure off county jails.  Now one of the county jails discussed at the meeting is on probation.

Thursday morning the Jail Standards Board for the Second Judicial District toured the jail.  Inside the cells designed to hold eight prisoners have as many as ten and twelve people.  It is an issue that could be dangerous for inmates and guards.

"Overcrowding causes all kinds of problems," said Randy Rankin is the coordinator for the Criminal Detention Facilities Review.

Members of the jail standards board are letting the Greene County Quorum Court and the sheriff know there are problems with overcrowding in their jail.

"They came in and did a tour.  I gave them the information on the status of our inmates incarcerated here," said Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston.

Inside there are 118 men and 39 women.  The maximum capacity of the jail is 110.

"At any given day we have 160 inmates in this jail," said Langston.

21 of their inmates are waiting on a bed at the Arkansas Department of Corrections.  Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston said two-thirds of their inmates have not been convicted of the crimes they're charged with and are in jail waiting for their day in court.

"The victims, they want that person who created the problem for them incarcerated.  They want them in jail," said Langston.

As part of their six month probation a letter will be sent to the county judge, quorum court, sheriff, circuit judge and the attorney generals office to let them know the jail is not in compliance with state standards.

"If at the end of that six months they are not in compliance the committee will have another meeting to decide at that time what actions to take," said Rankin.

"What they will probably do is have us go to our lowest number which is 110 and I would have to move these other inmates to another facility," said Langston.

If that happens it will cost the county money to pay other counties to house their prisoners.  If they don't lower their prisoner population, there is always the possibility the Greene County Jail could get shut down.

"They're expected to stay up to state standards to keep the state and the county out of lawsuits," said Rankin.

There have been discussions in the past about building a new jail, but that would take time and money the county does not have.

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