LAND WANTED: State of Arkansas searching for land for new prison; Is northwest Arkansas a possibility?

LAND WANTED: State of Arkansas is searching for land for new prison.
LAND WANTED: State of Arkansas is searching for land for new prison.(ky3)
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 1:25 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:09 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Arkansas Board of Corrections and the Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC) issued a public notice for submissions for communities to express interest in donating land for the construction of a new maximum-security facility.

According to a DOC, the new prison would house approximately 1,000 inmates. The Arkansas Department of Corrections will evaluate submissions for selection.

Many in north Arkansas have speculated if there is interest in and around Boone County to offer a donation.

“As of right now, I would say no, but it is an opportunity that we are willing to discuss,” said County Judge Robert Hathaway.

Hathaway says he feels job creation always looks excellent from the surface. Still, an estimated 370 jobs created by the new facility would be difficult on an already strained workforce in north Arkansas.

“I would hope if they’re going to do a lot of hiring, they would hire locally first,” he said. “But as you know, we’ve had labor shortages here for years, so then they would have to move people in, and then you start dealing with the housing shortage. Finding housing for them.”

Many question a maximum-security facility’s impact on local/prospective businesses. Sullins RV, located across the street from the Boone County Jail, says it has no problems.

“None at all, we see ‘em walking occasionally walking on the highway, but as far as having a problem, we’ve had none of that,” said Sullins. “I honestly thought there would be; somebody gets released and wants to find a place to sleep. What better than to break into an RV? But, it’s just never happened.”

According to the DOC, a new facility would have a significant economic impact, with an annual payroll of approximately $21 million. The facility will have an estimated operating budget of roughly $2 million.

“This is me personally talking, but that’s 300-400 jobs, and most of those are good paying jobs,” said Boone County Sheriffs Office Chief Deputy Roy Martin. “I think it would be good for the economy.”

Martin also expressed the impact a new facility would have on his office, fearful that it could entice current jail workers to move on if any opportunity was present.

While county officials feel proposing a land donation is possible, there would still need to be several discussions before Boone County would look to “put its name in the hat.”

“There’s also the opportunity to bring in more money to the county or community that is in,” said Sullin, a Justice of the Peace. “Normally, with those prisons, you bring in a pretty good income and quite a few employees.”

According to the DOC, a new facility would have a significant economic impact, with an annual payroll of approximately $21 million. The facility will have an estimated operating budget of roughly $2 million.

CLICK HERE to see the official donations request from the DOC.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com