Crawford County leaders are hoping to build a new jail following allegations of overcrowding and several failed state inspections. They say getting the necessary money from a sales tax is the best option.
Voters turned down a sales tax to support the funding three times, but the sheriff said overcrowding is a major problem. A new jail would ease in a solution, he said.
The funding, if approved in May, would come from a sales tax.
"The funding's going to come from a tax proposal," said Crawford County Judge John Hall. "It can be from one cent as low as a half cent."
The Quorum court is set to meet again next Monday (Jan. 20) to discuss the issue.
City officials said if the tax is approved, they hope to break ground by August. The jail will take almost two years to build.
Sheriff Ron Brown said he has enough room for 88 inmates at the Crawford County Detention Center.
"We have outgrown this facility," Brown said.
It's a sentiment expressed by county officials who discussed the prospects of a new jail Tuesday night at the Crawford County Quorum Court meeting.
“It`s been haunting us for a long time,” Hall said.
The state placed the current jail on probation in July of 2013. The facility failed its past three inspections. The inspections found issues with overcrowding and insufficient staffing.
“Over the years we've turned exercise yards into barracks,” Brown said. “We've turned multi-purpose rooms into housing.”
Crawford County officials said they have three developers in mind to build the new jail.
One at the top of their list is Mike Kelley with SouthBuild TEAM out of Tennessee. City officials said the new jail would have a wagon wheel design.
"The jail operates on a $1.3 million budget," Hall said. “The new jail will have three times as many people."
The new jail would be built one mile east on Highway 64 or one mile north or south on Arkansas Highway 59, Hall said.