Greene County Jail Faces Serious Overcrowding

January 24, 2005--Posted at 6:00 p.m. CST

PARAGOULD-- The heat is on for the Greene County Jail after a letter was issued by the state noting "chronic overcrowding problems."

"It was built in 94' and this is 2004 and the population factor is growing and there's just a lot of things just coming to head," Sheriff Dan Lagston says.

The State capacity for the Greene County facility is 110 and officials say they jail as many as 180 inmates at a time.

"We have eight man cells and we have four man cells. We have upwards of 12 to 16 in the eight man cells and it usually averages six to seven inside the four man cells," Jail Administrator Brad Bolar says.

The overflow of inmates in each cell means sleeping on the floors.

"We've taken steps on the womens' end. We've added bunk beds to get them up off the floor," Bolar says.

Female inmates might be off the floors, but a large number of male inmates are still without beds.

"When the jail was originally designed it was set up for a certain amount of inmates and there's just not very much space to add more beds," Bolar says.

The overpopulation of the jail is causing serious safety, security and health risks for inmates and staff.

The jail has been given six months to make adjustments or they might have to consider shutdown.

Officials say this isn't the first time they've felt the pressure for change.

"We've been under pressure for the last eight years so it's nothing different. We've just been keeping our heads above water, and it's just now coming to the point where something has to be done and it's up to our quorum court to realize this," Langston says.