Bowie County and the Arkansas Department of Correction have agreed to house 288 Arkansas inmates at the Bowie County Annex, stated Bowie County Judge James Carlow.
The Arkansas Legislature has yet to fund the contract, meaning that until this happens, the inmates cannot be moved. Bowie County is anticipating the inmates arrival around April 1, 2015.
“Bowie County and Arkansas Department of Correction finally came to an agreement that we are all happy with,” stated Carlow, explaining that, “Bowie County will receive about $36 dollar per day for each inmate, and will receive a stipend per day for insurance on the inmates.” “The jail will need to hire 20-22 new employees, and we are in the process of doing that now,” stated Carlow.
The negotiations started this year between Carlow and Wendy Kelley, the new Chief Deputy Director of Arkansas Department of Correction, and lasted about a month.
The agreement comes in response for a growing need for more beds to house Arkansas inmates. “As every sheriff and prosecutor will tell you, there is a crying need for more prison space. The lack of bed space in prison has resulted in the current backlog in the county jails, repeat offenders being released on bond because there is no room in the county facility, and continued use of the Emergency Powers Act that provides early release from prison because of overcrowding,” stated Governor Asa Hutchinson in a press release.
Carlow further stated that the deal is a win-win because Arkansas gets more beds and Bowie County gets additional money.
“It is cheaper for Arkansas to house the inmates at our facility than Arkansas keeping the inmates in their own prison system. Also, it is a good deal for Bowie County because it will save us about half million dollars a year,” stated Carlow.
Last year, Arkansas Department of Correction sought bids from multiple counties intending to build a new prison. However, new Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a different strategy recently.
“The cycle can only be broken by a three-part approach to criminal offenses: (1) more prison space; (2) a more effective parole and reentry system; and (3) investing in alternative and accountable sentencing programs for non-violent offenders,” stated Hutchinson.
LaSalle Southwest Corrections is a private company who runs the Bowie County jail currently.
“LaSalle picks them up and delivers them from their Malvern facility. This facility is where they process inmates. They will carry them back when they get ready to release them,” stated Carlow.