Sharp County Jail Slated for Improvements

June 18, 2003
Posted at: 10:00 p.m. CDT

ASH FLAT, Ark. -- Small cells, small offices, and a very old design at the Sharp County Jail are a few reasons the county judge and sheriff believe it's time to do something new.

The first step on improving the situation: determining what is wrong with the current jail.

"Most of the facilities I visit are county jails because I was a sheriff in Minnesota," said Gary Waller, a corrections consultant studying the Sharp County Jail.

Waller and his partner, Jim Rowenhurst, have inspected and reported back to county officials with advice about a new direction for the facility. Most of the concerns about the jail involve security, space for inmates, and programs to educate and train prisoners to help them prepare for a better future.

During the past few days, the consultants have interviewed employees, prisoners, and court staff about the jail and justice system. County Judge Harold Crawford says something needs to be done in Ash Flat.

"We've got a great need for jail space," Crawford said. "They're not putting some people in jail, because they don't have the jail space to put 'em in."

After only six months in office, Sheriff Dale Weaver says he's doing what he can about safety and special programs. The jail building is a major concern.

"We've made a lot of positive changes since the first of the year to improve the security here at the jail," Weaver said.

After hearing recommendations and ideas for possible solutions to the county's small jail problem; Weaver, his staff, judges, and county officials hope the plan for improvements start as soon as possible.