Sheriff warns Pulaski County Jail could close

PULASKI COUNTY (KATV)--The idea of closing the Pulaski County Jail could soon become a reality. Sheriff Doc Holladay has already issued notices to district court judges and all local law enforcement agencies warning them to be prepared.

The safety of staff and inmates is a big concern for Holladay, he said there just isn't enough beds to house all the inmates, which could cause them to close down and quit accepting new offenders.

The Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility can hold up to 1,210 inmates. However, for the past few weeks, the jail has seen around 1,300 causing them to double bunk. Pods are built to house 80 inmates with one deputy assigned to that pod. However, with the overcrowding, inmates outnumber deputies 160 to 2.

"In a confined area that like when you have those people interacting the potential for some outbreak of violence, disturbance," said Holladay.

If the jail closes, they'll only accept violent offenders, and while District Judge Alice Lightle said she wants the worst criminals off the street; those with misdemeanors look at the judicial system as a joke.

"I sentence someone to a year in the county jail, and they may end up only doing a fraction of that time, 30 days maybe," said Lightle. "Well that tells, in my opinion, that tells the individual they don't have to worry about the justice system," she adds.

"I'm hopeful that the county and the cities can come to an agreement and move forward without any reduction in beds, and then fund these 160 that we have available, but can't use because we don't have the man power to staff them," said Holladay.

Holladay adds, another reason why the county jail is over populated is because the Arkansas Department of Corrections is also full.

70 percent of inmates in the county are awaiting sentencing, while the other 30 percent are just waiting for beds in DOC.

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