Jackson Co. enters state prison race

Jackson Co. enters state prison race

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Jackson County has thrown their hat in the ring for the new maximum security state prison.

The Jackson County Quorum Court will approve a resolution on Thursday in support of having the new state prison built in Jackson County.

“We see the benefits of having a prison in your community because we already have an Arkansas Corrections Facility here," said Jon Chadwell, director of economic development in Newport.

The Arkansas correctional facilities board is accepting proposals from communities willing to host a new $100 million, 1,000-bed maximum-security prison. The board says it's looking for a site with at least 400 acres, close to an airport and college or university. 

"It provides good jobs, there stable jobs, and there are a lot of jobs that people can get without advanced degrees," Chadwell said.

Two state prisons: Grimes and McPherson are located just 4 miles northeast of Newport. Chadwell said the prison would provide a stable income for people in the community.

 "People have a chance to have really good benefits, health insurance, retirement, things of that nature," he said. 

The new facility would house the most difficult inmates in the prison system. The prison would include 1,000 one-man and two-man cells, with extra space set aside for 200 single-cell isolation units.

Keith Lloyd has lived in Grubbs for 65 year and said another business would be a great benefit to the county.

"I think it's great because it offers more jobs to the community because we don't have anything here," he said. "We already got the prison system here so we might as well add to it."

Chris McDonald is the owner of Hungry Man Restaurant in Newport and said this is just what the city needs. 

"We've seen Newport decline and I think any new industry especially something as beneficial as a prison to the community would be welcomed to me," he said. 

Chadwell said they have put together a committee of county and city officials to write up a proposal to send to the state level. The Arkansas Board of Corrections will accept requests until late October in hopes of securing a site before next January's legislative session.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.