Greene County Judge Responds to Jail Overcrowding Issue - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Greene County--Tiffany Blankenship Reports

Greene County Judge Responds to Jail Overcrowding Issue

May 17, 2005-- Posted at 9:00 p.m. CDT

GREENE COUNTY-- Greene County Judge Jesse Dollars says jail overcrowding is a problem that's widespread, but it could cost the Greene County Jail a great deal of money.

Judge Dollars says he's not shocked by the results of the latest inspection of the Greene County Jail.

He says the jail has been overcrowded for some time.

"We've had it within a year or two years since the jail was started. It's been a long time," Dollars says.

The jail was built in 1994, and state inspectors say the jail capacity is 110 inmates.

In the latest inspection, the jail housed nearly 130.

The jail also violates state standards for inmate, staff ratio.

Dollars does not deny any of these violations.

"You know, that's what it is. It's standard not law. If you go by the standards, you've got to have so many people per personnel so I'm sure we probably would be by those standards. But I think the whole state of Arkansas has the same problem," Dollars says.

Dollars says the county has considered expanding the jail -- an idea, he says, that's more challenging than it seems.

"Money's the largest part. To expand, you've got to have 4 to $5 million. That's just for the expansion," Dollars says.

He says there's little room in the jail's budget to transport prisoners to another location.

He claims it costs roughly 50 to $60 more per inmate per day.

Dollars says the overcrowding problem is not uncommon in the state.

"It's just being pointed out a lot lately, I think. I think you could go out to the other jails in the state that are just as bad if not worse. We've got one of the model jails in the state, I think," Dollars says.

Dollars says he doesn't want to remedy the issue in court.

He says the county will consider changes upon official notification of the inspection results.

"This is just an ongoing thing. We're not falling apart or different from a lot of others. It's just a system we've got to work with, and it's going to take a period of time to do it," Dollars says.

Judge Dollars has not yet received the official results of the inspection. He did not have an exact date when that may be.

Meantime, the coordinator for jail standards says he expects the jail to receive a six month probation period during which they should correct the problem.

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