Officials from 6 counties discuss possible new jail

FORREST CITY, AR (KAIT) - City officials from five Arkansas counties will meet Thursday to discuss the possibility of a regional jail.

Due to the lack of space and funding, most of the countieshave jails that are overcrowded. Officialswant the jail to be within a central location between all six counties. Most countiesare transporting inmates out of the county or letting them gofree.

"There is atime when you're overcrowded, you have to make a decision," said Cross County Judge Jack Caubble.

Andsometimes that decision may lead to letting some inmates go free.

"This guy isnot as bad as this guy," Caubble said. "Now this guy is bad but he's not as bad as this one sowe're going to order to free up space by letting this person go back out on thestreets."

Caubble said this regional jail would be very beneficial to Cross County. 

"We would have a set cost," he said. "If we haveten percent of the population then we pay 10 percent of the costs."

The countiesinvolved are Lee, Monroe, Phillips, Woodruff,  Cross and St. Francis. Cross County is currently housinginmates from Phillips County because their jail recently closed down.

"There is no where to put people so we are at a max at our facility right now," Caubble said. 

PhillipsCounty pays Cross County $40 a day per inmate. Caubble said at timesthey have to send their inmates to another county especially their juvenileinmates.

"You have toalso figure in the costs of transporting the prisoners we have in Cross Countyto another facility," he said.

He said juveniletransports cost 4 times as much as a regular inmate.

"We have got to make decisions today that willaffect 30 or 40 years down the road," Caubble said. 

Officials are considering a sales tax each county toshare the costs of the jail. The next step is to undergo a study that would reveal the best  location and cost for the regional jail.

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