ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT) - The Sharp County Quorum Court is considering asking residents to vote on a sales tax proposal to pay for building a new jail.
The Sharp County Jail was built in 1981 as a 28-bed facility, according to Sheriff Mark Counts.
Around 2003, space for eight female inmates was added to the jail.
With that, the detention center currently has 36 beds available.
"Over the past six to eight months we've run 50 plus, sometimes 55, 56," Counts said. "I know over the holiday weekend we got much closer to 60. I'm running into calls all the time from the jail about not being able to hold the people that are coming in."
This means they sometimes have to turn away misdemeanor offenders they would otherwise lock up.
"We turn around one or two every day because somebody will get called in on a warrant from another jurisdiction and we just have to turn them away," Counts said. "Our count is 50 or 51 today and we just don't have the room unless something serious happens."
The sheriff said another concern with such an old building is security for the guards and deputies.
The current jail doesn't have an updated security system or locks.
"A couple of years ago we had a couple of guys to overpower one of the jailers," Counts said. "They had beat him up and taken off. We caught them a short time later."
The county owns a piece of land behind the current jail.
Counts said he would like to see a new, 100-bed jail built on that property.
So the county is asking the community to help fund it through a 3/4 cent sales tax.
"If we can get that approved we can get our jail built," Sharp County Judge Gene Moore said. "Down the road, at a certain time, we can drop off part of that and keep part of it for our maintenance. We'll have to have both issues, that's going to be on the ballot in November we hope, and we need them both to pass so we can make this happen for our county."
Counts said they have been speaking to different contracting groups right now to get price estimates that they hope to present at the next quorum court meeting.