Craighead Co. Jail dealing with crowded capacity

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Craighead County Detention Center is full once again.

Jail Administrator for the Craighead County Detention Center Keith Bowers said this is a problem with both good and bad points.

"It's a good and bad problem," Bowers said. "We're fairly full here at the jail. The reason it's a good problem is the police and the sheriff's deputies are doing their job and they're arresting people and bringing them to jail. But our biggest problem why it's bad is that most everyone they're bringing in are felons."

Bowers said they did some shuffling to solve the problem.

"We have to separate our felons from our misdemeanor prisoners," Bowers said. "We also separate the females and the juveniles. We're getting so many felons that we've had to, where we usually have two misdemeanor units, we've had to take that down to one to find more space for the felony prisoners. They're catching them and we're filling up!"

Bowers said they're taking the situation day by day.

"We're playing this thing by ear," Bowers said. "We're watching the count, the misdemeanor count day by day. If we're full of misdemeanors, obviously we have to shut it down and not accept any more misdemeanor prisoners from the city, county and all the other surrounding departments we have in the county. If we loosen up a little bit then we can open that back up and accept them."

Bowers said right now they aren't accepting misdemeanors.

The only exceptions are those arrested for domestic violence or those under the influence.

Those under the influence are being held temporarily.

"DWI related and alcohol related and controlled substance misdemeanor charges," Bowers said. "We will accept them. We will watch them for six hours. Then we'll make sure they're sober and release them with a ticket and a court date."

Bowers said expansion would be a possible solution to keep this problem from continuously repeating.

"I believe that's probably gonna be the only way that we can avoid this," Bowers said. "Because, obviously, our jail space is not working for the amount of felons we are receiving right now. I know Pulaski County doesn't even take misdemeanor prisoners anymore. They don't even entertain the thought of taking misdemeanor prisoners. For that not to happen here in Craighead County, we probably need expansion is what we need. I would say 150 to 200 beds, at least, to alleviate this."

The Craighead County Detention Center is 29 years old.

Their last expansion was in 2002.

However, Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said that extra room is gone now.

"With the growth, we've seen over the years in the county," Boyd said. "And the crime that comes with that growth, we've exceeded that."

Sheriff Marty Boyd said they're in the process of forming a specific group to help address the problem.

"We are in the process," Boyd said. "Of creating a Justice Coordination Committee. It will be comprised of both judicial and law enforcement. Their purpose will be to work at coming up with ways to manage the jail population."

There are currently around 170 felons in the Craighead County Detention Center.

For more information about the Craighead County Sheriff's Department, click here.

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