May 22, 2015
11:21 pm
RAIN:  7AM to 7AM:  .00"    Month:  7.01”    Year:  25.48"   |  TEMPS:  High: 69  Low: 46

Sheriff says additional beds not much help reducing jail overcrowding

    Arkansas corrections officials have begun moving some state inmates from county jails into about 600 beds opened with $6 million approved by the state Legislature earlier this month. But Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, during an interview with KTLO, Classic Hits and The Boot News on Friday, said due to the large backlog of state prisoners in county facilities, he doesn't expect the additional bed space to make much of a dent in the overcrowding problem.
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    The Department of Corrections is using the additional state appropriation to lease bed space available in some counties, such as Pulaski and Newton, where newly-built facilities haven't opened due to lack of maintenance and operating funds.
    Sheriff Montgomery says he has some state prisoners who have been held in the Baxter County Detention Facility for months.
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    Montgomery says in addition to a financial drain, the overcrowding poses serious safety problems.
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    Corrections officials last week said they'll ask state lawmakers to earmark between $75 million to $100 million to build a new 1,000-inmate facility. Even if the funds are approved, it will be three to four years before a new prison is built. Montgomery says, that alone, will not solve the overcrowding problem.
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    Sheriff Montgomery says studies show the inmate growth rate is about 600 prisoners a year, easily outstripping the additional bed space being sought.

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