Sheriff reopens jail to misdemeanor offenders

Sheriff reopens jail to misdemeanor offenders

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Potential inmates for Craighead County were simply "cited and released" last week due to major overcrowding at the jail while some already incarcerated inmates were released early.

"I had to turn loose some misdemeanors so I could hold more felons," County Sheriff Marty Boyd told Region 8 News.

Of the 241 felons at the Craighead County Jail last week, Boyd said 98 of them were waiting for room at the Arkansas Department of Correction.

"They didn't have bed space which means we had to hold them," Boyd said.

He explained their lack of bed space resulted in keeping some misdemeanor offenders out of jail to accommodate the Department of Correction.

"We're not by ourselves," Boyd said. "Every county in Arkansas is feeling the same crisis."

Roughly 2,700 Department of Correction inmates are currently housed in county jails across the state.

Sheriff Boyd said the jails are mandated to hold Department of Correction felons, which can cause problems like closing the jail to misdemeanor offenders.

For the Craighead County jail, that equaled revenue lost on two fronts.

"For every state inmate, we receive $28 per day, where our cost is about $43 a day to hold somebody," Boyd explained.

So not only does the county get less than they need from the Department of Correction for the felons causing the overcrowding but the county doesn't receive the money from the misdemeanor offenders who can't be incarcerated because of the overcrowding.

"It's not right for the taxpayers of Craighead County for us to have to add on to the Craighead County Detention Facility and spend our money going to that project when it's actually an Arkansas state responsibility."

While the jail is back at normal operating procedures as of Wednesday morning, Boyd is afraid this could happen again in the near future if the state doesn't move forward with the prison projects.

"Myself personally, only thing I see is that the state needs to go forward with the prison project. We're gonna have to create more bed space to ease the overcrowding of the jails."

While the jail is back open to misdemeanors, Boyd said they are still at maximum capacity for felons right now. Part of the overcrowding could be solved through a new maximum security prison.

The ADC is accepting applications from county governments for the prison. The deadline to apply for that is in late October. 

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