Possible Sales Tax Could Ease Jail Overcrowding

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Crawford County residents could soon vote on a sales tax increase that would pay for a new detention center.

“We have worried about this for a while, now we need some action,” said Justice of the Peace James Lane.

The Crawford County Quorum Court listened Monday night at the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office made its case for a new jail.

“We can't go over 88 beds,” said Chief Deputy Jimmy Damante.

Damante says they cannot hold inmates on misdemeanor charges because the jail is so overcrowded. He says convicted felons are out on signature bonds because they do not have beds for them.

“We're taking prisoners and housing them in another county and paying that country to house our prisoners because we don't have any room,” said Damante.

The sheriff’s office estimates a new jail could cost $24.3 million. They have talked about asking voters to approve a sales tax increase that would fund the project.

“I wouldn't put the cart before the horse on a sales tax,” said Lane.

Lane wants more information and specific numbers before moving forward. “I know that we need a jail and I know we need to explore how much jail we need and how we'd be able to pay for it,” he said.

The sheriff’s office says the jail in on probation and could be shut down. “They come back every six months and see what we've done to correct our overcrowding problem,” said Damante.

The Crawford County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet again later this month.